Napoli have officially bought keepers Alex Meret and Orestis Karnezis after they were brought in from Udinese in the summer on loans with obligations to buy. Although we’ve known that the two would inevitably become Napoli players, now seems like a good to time to examine the club’s plan for the position going forward.
At just 21 years of age and already one of the top shot stoppers in Italy, Meret has earned his place as Napoli’s first choice keeper and will hopefully be between the sticks for the Partenopei for years to come. Napoli hasn’t had this highly touted of a keeping prospect since the days of Dino Zoff in the early 70’s. The battle for Italy’s number 1 shirt between Meret and Gianluigi Donnarumma will be something to keep an eye on in the coming years. Meret is more about technique and shot stopping (similar to Mattia Perin) while Donnarumma’s 6’5” frame gives him an imposing physical presence.
While Meret’s place as Napoli’s future number 1 is practically set in stone, the real question becomes who will back him up, Karnezis or David Ospina. Unlike the other two keepers, Ospina’s loan deal from Arsenal does not include an obligation to buy although last week Carlo Ancelotti stated that he wishes to sign Ospina to a permanent deal after the loan expires at the end of the season. Karnezis was initially brought in to fill in for the injured Meret at the start of the season but quickly lost confidence with the coaching staff after letting in 5 goals against Liverpool in a friendly. Since then he has only played in 6 matches compared to Ospina’s 11 and the Columbian has clearly become the obvious number two, but it remains unclear whether or not he will be content in a back-up role. At just 30 years of age, Ospina still has plenty of good years left and he may want to spend those years elsewhere if it means he’s playing.