As Napoli celebrated their huge win over Frosinone and Gonzalo Higuain's record-breaking performance, club president Aurelio De Laurentiis decided to add one more piece of good news to the already-huge pile: announcing their first signing of the summer, Empoli defender Lorenzo Tonelli.
[Maurizio] Sarri doesn’t know this yet, but Napoli have formalized the first signing and it is Tonelli. We’ll sign the paperwork on Monday.
It was a gesture of good faith, because even if we had suffered the pain of not finishing in the top two, we would’ve reinforced the squad anyway.
-Source: Football Italia
The signing doesn't come entirely out of the blue -- Tonelli has been a target of Napoli for a year now, and there were rumors late on Friday and early on Saturday that Napoli and Empoli had come to terms on a deal with roughly €9.5 million plus a further €2 million in potential bonuses. The timing of the announcement is still a surprise, albeit not at all an unwelcome one.
Tonelli, 26, started 26 matches for Empoli this season, coming out as their best defender in an otherwise disappointing campaign for them, and attracting the attention of many of the bigger clubs in Italy. He's not a flashy or commanding or elite defender, but he's a consistent, solid, and dependable one who played at a level higher than his teammates, and that's definitely something that will have a place in this squad.
It's also good to get him signed up and in the fold now, because all three of Napoli's main center backs are surrounded by question marks and transfer rumors heading into the summer. Raul Albiol is being linked with a return to Spain, Kalidou Kouliably may be bound for England or Germany, and there's been rumblings that Vlad Chiriches wants a starting job somewhere. With so much uncertainty at the position, getting a solid player like Tonelli so early in the summer is a hugely important thing for Napoli to get done, especially with the demands of the Champions League beckoning.
The transfer isn't official yet -- as De Laurentiis noted, the paperwork will be done on Monday -- but we'll say it now anyways: welcome to Napoli, Lorenzo Tonelli. We hope you enjoy your stay.