When Maurizio Sarri was hired at Napoli, rumors naturally started to fly of Empoli players who enjoyed success under their now-former boss following him to his new club. One of those rumors has already panned out, with Mirko Valdifiori joining the Napoli midfield, and another oft-mentioned name to join him has been Riccardo Saponara.
The now-former AC Milan loanee -- Empoli triggered a €4 million purchase clause and now own him outright -- has played the best football of his career under Sarri, who used Saponara to his strengths and enjoyed the goals and quality attacking play that came with that choice. Napoli were believed to be trying to buy him at the time that they signed Valdifiori, but those negotiations apparently came up empty as Valdifiori was the only Empoli player taking a medical this past weekend.
Now comes news that Napoli may have bid a shocking €15 million for Saponara -- and that somehow, that much won't be enough for Empoli to part ways with him.
We consider Riccardo to be one of the fundamental elements of our squad and have no economic problems, so to release him we’d need a really tempting offer.
€15m? That’s not going to be enough. It’s a shame nobody is focusing on the fact Empoli want to keep him for another year.
We only spoke to Napoli once about Saponara, when they were discussing the Mirko Valdifiori move. We might meet with them again.
-Empoli sporting director Marcello Carli to Radio CRC
Translation Source: Football Italia
Frankly, even €15 million is just too much for Saponara. He's a good and useful player, but he's not that good. If Empoli want more than that for him in order to make out what they keep from his sale -- Milan hold a 30% sell-on clause from his transfer -- they can keep him. Juventus are also supposedly interested in Saponara, so if they want to waste upwards of €20 million on him, they can feel free.