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Nikola Maksimovic and Daniele Rugani are not joining Napoli this January

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Despite all the rumors, it seems very unlikely that Napoli could or would sign either defender.

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There's been some fun rumors around Napoli of late, involving attempts to bring in Nikola Maksimovic or Daniele Rugani to bolster the back line. Both were targets of Napoli last summer, and both have compelling reasons to be available, leading Napoli fans to get excited about the chance to get such talented players for their defense.

Here's the thing, though. They're not coming to Napoli this January.

Rugani is available because Juventus need to get him playing time. He's hardly featured for the Old Lady this season because of their center back depth, and in order to keep him happy and help him develop on the incredible talent he has. Maksimovic may be -- but probably isn't -- available because he's been hurt since the second match after breaking his foot, and Torino's defense has done fairly well in his absence, leaving him a minimum amount of playing time available.

But looking at Napoli's side right now, there's not much reason to think that their situation in Naples would be any different. Kalidou Koulibaly is the clear #1 defender at center back, and while Vlad Chriches is the more talented defender, Raul Albiol has been close to nailed-on as his partner. Chriches has been excellent in his role as a European and cup starter, playing at a high level whenever he's been called on. With Maurizio Sarri's preference to limit his rotation, those three are the only central defenders to see playing time this season.

While you'd think that would leave an opening for another defender in Napoli, it's not terribly likely -- only one other central defender has seen playing time, and Sebastiano Luperto has played a whopping eleven minutes of football. Even Henrique's imminent departure doesn't create an opening, since he has yet to take the pitch and rarely even makes the bench. Given how effective Napoli's main defensive trio has been and Sarri's aversion to rotation, that doesn't create any potential for improved playing time for either Maksimovic or Rugani.

Between the difficulty in getting them playing time and the assuredly high cost of getting either player -- Torino asked for the moon for Maksimovic before extending his contract to 2020 in September, and Juventus aren't loaning a player as talented as Rugani to a direct rival, and wouldn't sell him to said rival for anything short of a king's ransom -- there's basically a zero chance that Napoli sign either defender. The rumors are fun to think about and would make Napoli's depth chart look damn fine, but it's just not happening.

Sorry folks.