Despite issues securing his release from a Puma sponsorship in order to hold his image rights, Napoli still appear to be on course to sign Davide Astori. The club seems optimistic about tying up the deal soon, and if current reports are to be believed, it sounds like they're just a few formalities away from having everything wrapped up and finalized.
That said, many fans have seemed somewhat disheartened by Napoli going after Astori. After all, he's not that great, and has struggled mightily over the past two seasons, especially last year when he was on loan at Roma. I come bearing good news, however: Astori is not the only central defender Napoli are aiming to sign this summer.
Despite some misgivings over price earlier in the summer, Napoli have made approaches for both Daniele Rugani of Juventus and Alessio Romagnoli of AS Roma. The pair are considered the top two young Italian defenders around, and have an awfully bright future ahead of them -- if Napoli can get either one of them after the excellent seasons they had on loan at Empoli and Sampdoria, respectively, it would be a big boon for their defense.
Napoli have reportedly had an offer of €22 million for Rugani rebuffed by Juventus with a reply of "we're not selling him, sorry," while a €28 million bid for Romagnoli was turned down with Roma demanding at least €30 million for the 20 year old. With both Arsenal and AC Milan after Romagnoli as well, Napoli will need to step up their efforts if they really want him -- even if it is a lot of money for a young defender, his pure talent at least seems to be worth the effort.
They're also hot on the trail of Torino defender Nikola Maksimovic, a 23 year old Serbian international who played a lot of high-quality football for Turin's second team last season. He only joined Torino from Red Star Belgrade a year ago and the club would rather keep him in the wake of Matteo Darmian's departure, but il Toro chairman Urbano Cairo is willing to let the defender go for the right price. Napoli have reportedly offered €12 million plus unspecified bonuses, but Torino are holding out for a base price at least three million higher.
There's always the chance that all of this is paper talk, but with this many rumors linking Napoli to fairly believable news, there's at least hope that something positive can come out of it. All three are talented defenders who would be a big boost to Napoli's group of central defenders, and would be well worth getting excited about any of them signing. Contrary to popular opinion, not all is doom and gloom at the San Paolo right now.