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Mercato Madness: Napoli look to Spain for defense

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Napoli are being linked to Espanyol center back Hector Moreno for a potential defensive reinforcement.

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A defender! A defender! Napoli are actually being linked with a real, live defender! And he's even pretty good! Oh frabjous day!

Reports in Spain have Espanyol very willing to part with Mexico international center back Hector Moreno, once a rock in their defense, but now mostly just a spare cog after going largely unused after a long injury layoff. Spanish news outlet Marca list Napoli as being the most interested side, with Juventus also apparently in the running.

That report has Espanyol's asking price standing at €8 million, a relatively reasonable number given Moreno's experience and quality. He's played over 110 matches for Espanyol and despite being just 27 has already amassed nearly 60 Mexico caps, a fairly impressive figure. Moreno's vast experience abroad would be good for Napoli to get, and the squad's large number of Spanish-speakers would help him fit in easier than with pretty much any other Italian squad.

As to what Moreno brings on the pitch, he's a very athletic and tactically solid player. He has the ability to reposition himself quickly and effectively, and a good instinct for where the ball is going, allowing him to be almost a step ahead at times. He struggles some with more physical players, but with a central defense partner like Kalidou Koulibaly around, that shouldn't be too much of a concern.

€8 million might be a little high for Napoli in this transfer window, but with the right kind of deal structure - say, a loan with a fee of €1-2 million and a mandatory purchase in the summer of the difference - would make a lot of sense for both clubs. Moreno is definitely the kind of player who can help Napoli both now and over the next few years, so if their interest is real, hopefully we see something good come of it over the next few days.