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Insigne’s struggles in front of goal continue

Napoli’s captain looks to regain his early season form

SSC Napoli v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

After a red-hot start to the season, Lorenzo Insigne has struggled to regain his scoring form. Since converting a penalty in Napoli’s 1-1 draw with PSG back in early November, Insigne has only scored twice in a span of 4 months and 18 games. His scoring woes continued on Sunday against Juventus when his penalty kick struck the post leaving Napoli without a point to show for their performance. Since Marek Hamsik’s move to China in February, Insigne has taken over the captaincy and it’s possible that the added pressure of wearing the armband has only elevated his struggles in front of net.

As the season has gone on, it has become clear that Carlo Ancelotti’s preferred eleven features Insigne lined up as a secondary striker below Arkadiusz Milik. This is a much more free role than he had previously under Maurizzio Sarri, who preferred to play him out wide. Insigne still likes to drift to the outside but having him in a more central role has allowed him to be more of a play-maker rather than someone who relies on pace as many wingers do. While Insigne’s lack of goal scoring is certainly a concern, it would be far too easy and not completely accurate to claim he’s been playing poorly. He’s still generating an impressive number of chances for both himself and others as was seen on Sunday against Juventus. In the second half of Sunday’s match, Insigne did his signature cut inside on his right foot, but instead of aiming for the far corner of the goal, he picked out the run of Jose Callejon on the edge of the six-yard box to get Napoli on the score-sheet.

Regarding his struggles in front of net, Insigne stated “Ancelotti changed my position and I feel good, although lately I haven’t been as sharp as I was at the start of the season... The important thing is to always work hard, goals aside. The performance is important.”

Ancelotti will most likely stick with his 4-4-2 formation, but it will be interesting to see if he chooses to shake things up to get the Napoli captain going. This could mean going with the two small forwards up top in Insigne and Dries Mertens or moving Insigne back to a wider position out on the left.