One of the big stories of the World Cup was the performance of the Chile national side, using an extremely unorthodox tactical setup to beat Australia and Spain, give Holland their toughest match yet, and take Brazil all the way to penalties before falling. They had some fantastic performances from several of their players, but one of the real eye-openers for many was a familiar face to Napoli fans.
Eduardo Vargas scored one goal and assisted on two others during Chile's exciting World Cup campaign, and even when he wasn't involved in the scoring he was making his presence felt. His runs, linking play with Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, and ability to press and defend from the front made him a vital cog to Chile's success in the tournament, and it's had suitors reportedly lining up to try and secure his services.
Those suitors might be waiting awhile, however, if some new quotes from Vargas' agent hold true.
"I spoke with Napoli on Tuesday," his agent told a Chilean news outlet. "And the contract with them is still in force. They consider him an important part of the squad, and are looking forward to him starting pre-season. They told me that they were delighted with Eduardo at the World Cup."
If true, it's fantastic news for the partenopei. Vargas is good, capable of contributing as a striker or from anywhere along the attacking midfield band. His quality and versatility are exactly what Napoli need right now as they try to improve the squad both in depth and quality in order to improve on last season's result.
Many feared that he wouldn't be interested in a return, however, as Vargas' first spell with Napoli didn't go so well. As his agent put it, "[Walter] Mazzarri didn’t really like him." Vargas' skill and quality were immediately apparent after he transferred to Napoli from Universidad de Chile for a handsome fee in January of 2012, but Mazzarri didn't see it that way. He refused to start Vargas in Serie A play, and didn't utilize him much more in the Coppa Italia or in European competition.
That lead to a loan to Gremio for all of 2013, where he helped the Brazilian side to a second-place finish in the nation's top division. After that, Rafa Benitez couldn't immediately find room for Vargas in his squad, so it was off to Valencia, who he helped to a Europa League semi-final berth before falling to the eventual winners in Sevilla. Then came his time at the World Cup, and now Vargas' agent makes it sound as though Benitez is eager to find a way to work with the Chilean attacker.
If Vargas is indeed staying and this isn't a contract negotiation ploy to wheedle more money out of another club, adding him back in to the squad and potentially adding Michu as well would give Napoli an incredible attacking force to work with. It would also, barring any departures (HANDS OFF HIGUAIN, BARCA!) allow them to shift their transfer market focus entirely to central midfield and their defense, areas that many agree need some help.
With the way the roster is starting to shape up, this upcoming season is looking like it's going to be a fun one.