Despite rumors regarding the departure of a number of key players, the Napoli squad remains intact for the second half of the season. All January, Napoli fans have been bombarded with talk of Allan to PSG, Koulibaly to Manchester United, Malcuit to Arsenal, Hysaj to Chelsea, and on and on. Yet despite the talk, the team is unchanged and is looking to avoid a rough week turning into a full on mid-season slump. After crashing out of the Coppa Italia on Tuesday, it remains unclear what reasonable objectives should be for the rest of the season. The Scudetto is seemingly out of reach while a champions league spot is all but assured. This just leaves the Europa League; Napoli’s last chance to win a piece of silverware for the first time in five years.
Another question is the future of Napoli captain and club legend Marek Hamsik. Hamsik has been linked to a possible move to China for some time now and while the transfer period in Italy is over, in China it doesn’t end until February 28th. The Slovakian midfielder has yet to see the field this year since picking up a thigh injury in December and is still uncertain of his place in Ancelotti’s team. After sitting on the bench for both matches at the San Siro, expect Hamsik to start this weekend against Sampdoria in place of the suspended Fabian Ruiz. After two poor performances in a row, Napoli are in desperate need of leadership in the middle of the park and will be glad to have their captain back on the field.