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Mercato Madness: Napoli may sign Ivan Strinić

Thanks to an oddity in contracts in Ukrainian football, Crotian international left back Ivan Strinic is about to be available on a free, something that some believe Napoli is going to take advantage of.

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The transfer market is a strange thing. With so many countries, leagues, and rules involved, occasionally something weird happens and a really good player pops up for a screaming steal. That seems to be happening now, and for once Napoli might be able to benefit from one of those lucky breaks.

Four years ago at the end of this month, Ivan Strinić transferred from Croatian club Hajduk Split to Ukrainian giants Dnipro Dnipropretrovsk. However, the contract he signed was only a four year deal, not a four-and-a-half year contract that would take him through the end of this season. That means that, as of December 31st, Strinić will be free to sign wherever he pleases as a free transfer... and according to Gianluca Di Marzio, Napoli want to take advantage.

Strinić is a 27 year old left back with 33 senior caps for Croatia to his name. He's been one of Dnipro's best players since joining them, and the Ukrainian side has had to rebuff several efforts from bigger clubs to acquire his services. Strinić has been hesitant at best to renew his contract, though, seeming to prefer heading somewhere abroad rather than stay in Ukraine.

Enter Napoli, who just so happen to be in need of a couple of good left-sided players. They might have one on the way in Manolo Gabbiadini to bolster the attack, but a fullback is also needed with Faouzi Ghoulam a virtual lock to get called up to Algeria's squad for the African Cup of Nations starting in January. Strinić has the talent to step straight in to the lineup without missing a beat, and might even be better for Napoli than Ghoulam once he's had time to adjust to a new squad. He also can play further forward in a pinch, which suits Napoli's current depth situation nicely.

Napoli won't be the first Italian side to benefit from such a contract oddity recently; a year ago, AC Milan signed Keisuke Honda under essentially identical circumstances when the Japanese international's contract with Russian outfit CSKA Moscow expired.

It's not often that you get the opportunity to sign an in-prime player as good as Strinić for free. Napoli can and should take full advantage of this chance while it's available, because it makes sense from every perspective in a transfer: talent, finances, and squad need. If Napoli sign Strinić, they won't regret the decision for a moment.