Napoli are in dire need of a fullback, and they may just be going back a couple of years on their target list to find one. Reports in Spain and Italy indicate that Napoli are hard after Atletico Madrid right back Sime Vrsaljko, a player who made his name at Sassuolo and who was nearly signed by Napoli before he moved to Spain.
To that end, Napoli have reportedly made a €22 million bid for his services, but Atletico’s response has been described as “stalling” in various outlets, as they’re not eager to sell in the winter window. In fact, they’re still looking to make additions to their squad after waiting out a transfer and registration ban that officially ends on January 1st.
Napoli’s need comes thanks to the injury to Faouzi Ghoulam on the left and the continued need for a long-term replacement of Christian Maggio on the right. Elseid Hysaj seemed like a viable option when he was signed, but his development seems to have stalled over the last year. Vrsaljko hasn’t exactly enjoyed life in Spain, making just 33 all-competitions appearances over the last year and a half since signing thanks to proving to be an ill fit for Diego Simeone’s tactical setup.
Vrsaljko is still a talented player, though, and at just 25 years old he still has plenty of time to continue his development. The rumored €22 million fee would be steep for a player who hasn’t done much lately, but he could provide a boost of talent and depth in a place that Napoli clearly need it.
But if Atleti are unwilling to sell, it could be incredibly difficult for Napoli to get their man. It’s certainly going to be a tough window for them regardless given who seems to be active in the market — both buying and selling — and they’re going to need a list of alternatives they can line up if they can’t land Vrsaljko. It’s going to be interesting to see how this window pans out, because Napoli definitely need to add a couple of key pieces like Vrsaljko as they prepare for the final stretch of the season.