Lost in all the drama of Roberto Soriano's near-miss signing, Napoli did complete one bit of business on the closing day of the summer mercato: the partenopei signed Chelsea youngster Nathaniel Chalobah on loan for the duration of the season. While neither team has actually announced the move yet, the Lega Serie A website reflects it as a done deal, so it appears that Napoli did get this one done in time.
Maybe. Hopefully. And now, a full day after it was first reported that a deal had been struck, the move has been officially announced:
The 20 year old is an interesting acquisition for Napoli. Chalobah has yet to play above England's second division during various loan spells over the past three years, but he's an intriguing physical specimen who looks as though he has incredible upside. Primarily a defensive midfielder, he's also played some in central defense, and he's got the size and skillset to be a fairly decent asset on the back line if Maurizio Sarri decide that's how he wants to utilize the Englishman and Chalobah can make the needed adjustments.
No matter where Chalobah winds up slotting in, the move is a little odd for Napoli. They're not really a "developmental" club where young players on the upswing are sent for seasoning, but since there's no purchase clause being reported by believable sources, that's exactly what this loan is. Add that to the confusion over his role -- does he join a crowded midfield that needs a very different kind of player, or play a spot in defense that he hasn't played much in some time -- and it's hard to "get" this loan for Napoli.
But then you look at his size and strength and skills, and it's hard not to admire Chalobah as a player. If Sarri can find a way to utilize him and get positive results from him, this could be a valuable move for Napoli this season. If not -- well, it's a one year loan. Nothing lost there.