Lots of times when a manager changes teams, his new club is linked to transfers with a number of his players from the old one. That's certainly been the case with Maurizio Sarri and Empoli, with his new club Napoli rumored to be in for a number of his best and brightest players from last season.
The foremost of Napoli's pursuits in this apparent attempt at a raid of Empoli's squad is Mirko Valdifiori, the metronomic heart of Sarri's midfield last season. While a week ago a deal looked like a shaky possibility at best, a new approach from Napoli had the Italian international's agent sounding optimistic, with a meeting expected between the two sides on Monday. There's interest in Valdifiori from Torino as well, but it sounds like the two clubs are some way apart on a deal.
Then there's Riccardo Saponara. You remember him -- he's the man who pretty much single-handedly beat Napoli when Empoli beat them 4-2 in April. Saponara has enjoyed a lot of success under Sarri, both in the second half of last season after he was loaned from AC Milan and in a previous loan in Serie B, and he could be poised to reunite with his favorite manager once more.
Saponara's loan included a €4 million purchase clause that Empoli triggered, meaning that he's now free of the rossoneri's clutches. They are apparently willing to immediately flip Saponara as long as they make enough from the sale to cover their costs on the attacking midfielder and also account for the 30% sell on clause Milan holds on Saponara. A fee between €6-7 million would probably be enough for Napoli to wrest Saponara away, and likely wouldn't be a poor transaction by any means.
Napoli are also being linked to Elseid Hysaj, an Albanian international fullback who's been drawing acclaim despite his tender young age of 21. Primarily a right back, he can also do a job on the left and projects to become a much, much better player than the already-solid performer that he is, meaning the Hysaj could be the perfect answer for Napoli's problems at right back, with Chrisitan Maggio aging and Camilo Zuniga almost permanently injured over the last two years.
Napoli are also getting back Luigi Sepe, who starred in goal for Empoli last season, and made an overture for another former Empoli loanee in Daniele Rugani, who broke out in a big way last season. The Juventus-owned center back was never a likely "get" though, as his talent level and home grown status meant that the Serie A title holders just laughed and hung up when Napoli made their inquiry. With some roster shuffling expected and a couple big question marks on their back line next season, it's likely that Juve have big plans for Rugani and it would take an absurd offer to even interest them in selling him.
The trio that Napoli could get, though, are all reasonable options for Napoli to help address two big needs: midfield depth and a solution at right back. The trio could probably be had for some €20 million combined, if not a little less, which would be a good piece of business for Napoli if they can pull it off. Getting Saponara, Valdifiori, and Hysaj in the side would give them a solid base to work from in the rest of their transfer activity this summer, letting them aim for a couple bigger targets after filling several needs for a relative bargain.