After word spread Sunday that Napoli were closing on a loan of AC Milan goalkeeper Gabriel, Monday brought reports that the deal is all but done and Gabriel will be loaned for the season to back up Pepe Reina.
Gabriel was a star in Serie B last season, but the 22 year old still has some growing to do as a player before he's ready to be a full time starter for Milan. The rossoneri apparently feel that backing up Reina at Napoli is the way to do that growing, despite having interest in him from clubs that would have started Gabriel -- until about a week ago, both Carpi and Gabriel were interested in renewing last season's highly successful loan, but something changed and the deal dissolved in a hurry, leading to this news.
Getting Gabriel in-house allows Napoli to let Luigi Sepe head to Fiorentina on his own loan to further develop without worrying about who the backup will be. With Rafael Cabral looking likely to return to Brazil for at least the coming season and Mariano Andujar nursing a broken wrist and frankly not being that good any more, loaning out Sepe required Napoli bringing in another goalkeeper, and now they're an official announcement from doing just that.
It sounds like this could be done very soon, and if so, it's going to be interesting to see how Napoli use Gabriel. He's talented and can be a useful piece for Napoli, but if they're not going to be able to keep him long term -- and there's been no indication that there's a purchase clause in the loan -- they don't want to help him too much, because then he'd go back to Milan and be good there.
Strategy, man. It's complicated.