Napoli have been hoping for a few weeks now that they could find a way to land Nikola Maksimovic from Torino, but after their president declared that Maksimovic would not be sold this summer under any circumstances, it's probably time to find a new target. Apparently, they've done just that, moving quickly to secure the signing of an experienced center back who also lets Napoli get a little bit of revenge in the process.
That target is Tottenham Hotspur center back Vlad Chiriches, who on Sunday morning looked bound to join Fiorentina on a one-year loan with an option to buy. After Fiorentina helped blow up the Davide Astori transfer, though, Aurelio De Laurentiis wasn't having any of that, and Napoli opened their own negotiations with the English club for Chiriches. In fact, in a matter of hours, things have gone from Fiorentina being expected to sign Chiriches, to Napoli having him all but locked up, with the player supposedly set to come to Italy on Tuesday to finalize his transfer.
Details as to what the deal would entail are still scarce, but there's now a report that Napoli might be buying him outright for €6 million, as opposed to the loan-with-purchase-option that Fiorentina wanted. If that figure seems familiar, it should -- it's the same fee Napoli were going to pay Cagliari for Astori before that deal blew up.
Talent-wise, this deal would be ... odd. Chiriches is 25, and probably roughly equivalent to Astori in terms of his current level of quality. He's got the athletic skills to pull off some pretty impressive things, but at Tottenham he showed all the tactical discipline of a lemoncake and was prone to some hilariously catastrophic mistakes, especially with Spurs played a high line. So that's not great. But he has a lot more upside than Astori offers, and the Romanian international could become quite good with the right coaching regimen, which is supposedly Sarri's specialty.
This deal is a little strange and kind of came out of nowhere, so it's hard to digest at the moment. It's a high-risk, high-reward type of deal, which is often good to try, especially for a relatively low fee as is being mooted. Even if Chiriches does sign, though, you have to hope Napoli sign one other defender that offers a bit more guaranteed quality -- though if this is just a near-miss deal that Napoli won't finish and is meant entirely to screw Fiorentina out of a signing, then job well done.