There's been an odd rumor circulating through Italy the last few days, claiming that Napoli want to sign Alberto Gilardino and may be quite close to sealing the deal.
The 33 year old striker, who a decade ago was the hottest commodity in Italy when he moved from Parma to Milan for €25 million, now plies his trade in China. Or he would, if he didn't want to move back home to Italy instead. A cash-strapped Genoa sold him to Guangzhou Evergrande for a few million euros, where he lasted all of six months of sparse playing time and mediocre success before he wanted to come home. He spent half a season on loan with Fiorentina, where his success was again mediocre, and la viola decided they didn't want to bring him back for a third stint with the club.
Now Napoli are believed to be considering him as a backup to Gonzalo Higuain. Some fans are up in arms over the concept -- but it actually makes a degree of sense.
Napoli don't really have a backup for Higuain right now. Yes, there's Manolo Gabbiadini, but this preseason he's shown that he's more comfortable playing off the main striker rather than being the leader of the line himself. And that's fine -- knowing a player's role is important, but it leaves a whole in Napoli's reserves, because he was the only option currently in the team. There was Duvan Zapata, but he's out on loan for the next two years because he needs as many starts as he can get, starts he won't get enough of serving as a backup again.
Thus, Gilardino. The former Italian international certainly fits the bill to serve as Higuain's reserve, and he'd come dirt-cheap as none of the Chinese teams are doing so well financially. Heck, they can probably get him on a zero-fee loan if they just take on his wages.
Here's the catch, though: Napoli can do better than Gilardino.
As he showed in the last few months of this past season, Gila doesn't really have a lot left to offer a high level team. Even as a backup, his value is limited at best right now. Napoli need a striker of his style, yes, but they can and should do better. If it comes to the end of the transfer window and nothing was able to develop with other players, sure, fine, bring in Gilardino and see what you can make work.
But for now, with two weeks left? Let's please look at other options. Options that you can feel more comfortable relying on to start when Higuain needs a day off. Gilardino's had a good career, but at this point, Napoli can't rely on him. They need to consider other players before deciding. to go with him. They don't have to be exceptional, they don't even have to have a ton of potential. They just need to look at players who they can rely on.
Players that aren't Goran Pandev would be nice too. Just sayin'.