Does anyone else remember a certain prediction that was made last month? Well, it's come true.
After a week of mostly idle speculation, talk is suddenly heating up that Napoli have renewed their interest in Olympique Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons. This flies in the face of quotes from Aurelio De Laurentiis that Napoli would not be trying for him again after how poorly that went in January, but a change in circumstances may have cracked the window open a tad.
For those who don't remember, Napoli reportedly had a deal all but tied up to bring Gonalons, now 25, to Naples in the middle of January, when De Laurentiis' counterpart in Lyon suddenly upped his fee demands by another third of what had previously been agreed. Things fell apart quickly from there, and it seemed as though the now-acrimonious relations between the two clubs would make any renewal of talks all but impossible.
Now it's been reported that Lyon are starting down a financial hole and need to sell players in order to stay afloat. Bafatimbi Gomis has already jumped ship on a free transfer to Swansea City (freeing up the rumored Michu move), and now Gonalons has, according to reports from the French media, told Lyon that he does not intend to extend his current contract, which expires in 2016.
With tall that conspiring to force Lyon's hand, it's believed that the clubs are working on a deal for around €12 million, which is slightly more than Lyon are short in their budget. It was thought that the deal would be finished today based on statements by Lyon's president about their financial woes, but obviously that hasn't happened quite yet.
It's long been rumored that Rafa Benitez wants to get a more physical presence in to midfield, and Gonalons would certainly give that. He's played his entire career so far for Lyon, and grew up in a town less than 20 minutes away, so if he does come to Napoli. don't be shocked if we see some degree of homesickness at some point. It's well worth the risk of him taking time to settle in, however, as he offers quality and experience at a position of need for a price well below what it seems like his market value would otherwise be given the current rate of transfer fee inflation over the past several years.
It's doubtful that this will be over quite as quickly as the media would like us to think, but do expect to hear more about this move, and soon.