The transfer market is in full swing, and Napoli are arguably the most active team in Italy right now, reported to be closing in on yet another player signing -- but unlike most of their rumored targets so far, this one will likely be rather divisive among fans. That's because Napoli are reported to be working on a €23 million deal to sign Antonio Candreva from Lazio, an idea that many Napoli fans will love, but others will absolutely loathe.
Candreva is a popular player in some circles of Italian football. An experienced player with plenty of quality play behind him, the tricky winger has a history of scoring goals and creating them with equal skill. He's an experienced Italian international, with 40 caps and 4 senior goals to his name, including starts in two of Italy's group matches at Euro 2016. He's been with Lazio for four and a half seasons and has been arguably their best player throughout that time, scoring double-digit goals in each of the past three seasons and often being praised as one of the best Italian attackers in the league.
Sounds good, right? Well, maybe not.
Candreva is also 29 and somewhat injury prone, dealing with a variety of leg issues over the last couple of years that has seen him steadily lose his once-impressive pace and explosiveness. He's reaching an age when those assets tend to decline anyways, making his ability to contribute at a high level a major question mark going forward considering how much Candreva relies on his burst of pace to create room to work with. He's not good on the ball in tight quarters, so without the ability to create space for himself, it's easy to see his productivity taking a sharp decline.
We already saw Candreva look less effective for much of the last season, with only two of his ten goals in the league coming from open play, with two others from set pieces and six from the penalty spot. His creative numbers took a turn for the worse as well, signalling that making such a heavy investment in Candreva might not be such a wise idea.
If Napoli were getting Candreva in his prime and relatively injury-free, they should be all over this move. As is? They should give it the hardest of all passes.
Plus there's the fact that giving Lazio money just leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Screw that club.
Hopefully this report is just his agent's way of using Napoli for leverage, as both Inter Milan and, oddly enough, Chelsea have been chasing him all summer long. Let one of those teams make the financial gamble on Candreva's ability to work without his speed and use your money elsewhere, Napoli. Please.