Remember Henrique? You could be forgiven if you don't, because he has played literally zero minutes for Napoli this season. Maurizio Sarri simply doesn't appear to trust him at all, and so it is that he appears set for a transfer to his home in Brazil, with Fluminese leading the charge.
Napoli signed Henrique in January 2014 for around €4 million from Brazilian club Palmeiras, after years spent jetting around Europe on various loans from Barcelona. Now 29, Henrique is in search of playing time again to try to regain his spot in the Brazil national team, who he suited up for in the 2014 World Cup, but has since lost his spot with thanks to little playing time and dreadful form when he did play.
Henrique's Napoli career started decently, looking fair as a rotational option in central defense and serving surprisingly well as an emergency right back when Christian Maggio was sidelined that spring with a collapsed lung. Last season, though, Henrique returned to the same form that left him unable to stay anywhere for long: unconvincing at best, a liability as the norm, and an absolute nightmare at worst.
That lead for him to get steadily less playing time as last season went on, with Miguel "f**king" Britos preferred as an option in central defense and literally anyone else preferred as an emergency reserve at right back. Now with Henrique not having played at all since preseason, various Brazilian teams have been sniffing around hoping to bring him home.
Henrique has been varyingly linked to Sao Paulo, Gremio, and Flamengo over the last couple of months -- interestingly, his old club Palmeiras has never popped up in rumors -- but right now it seems to be Fluminese who are most likely to sign him. The Fluzão finished a disappointing 13th in the Campeonato Brazil Serie A last season thanks to a defense that leaked 49 goals, and will be hoping that Henrique can help shore up their back line and boost that standing.
Napoli are apparently hoping to get a €2.5 million transfer for Henrique, but a number closer to half that is probably more realistic. Between his utter lack of playing time and the fact that his contract is up in 2017, Napoli just don't have much in the way of leverage in transfer negotiations -- but frankly, just getting him off the books isn't a bad start.
Selling Henrique will likely see Napoli look at buying a defender in January instead of waiting until next summer as had been expected, unless Sarri and sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli feel that youngster Sebastiano Luperto can do well as the team's fourth center back. As long as each of Raul Albiol, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Vlad Chriches all stay healthy, that's probably fine -- but if one of them gets hurt, things could get nervous. If two of them go down and Luperto has to start every match for awhile, well, that won't be ideal.