In news on the "buy a defender, dammit" front, there's a new rumor floating around today that could see former manager Walter Mazzarri help solve two of Napoli's problems at once. According to Rome-based paper Il Roma (what a creative name), Napoli and Inter Milan are discussing a potential swap of two central defenders that have fallen out of favor with their new managers in Paolo Cannavaro and Andrea Ranocchia.
Ranocchia has, rather inexplicably, been dropped from Mazzarri's starting lineup of late, starting just once since the middle of December. The exact cause of his fall from grace is unclear, as he generally played well this season when called upon. The only obvious potential reason is a rapid accumulation of yellow cards; Ranocchia has six already on the season, including one in each of his first two games after his accumulation suspension. It was right after that that Ranocchia started seeing the bench more frequently.
Despite that, however, Ranocchia would still be a tremendous acquisition for Napoli, as he's very talented and still fairly young at 25. In fact, it was not too long ago considered to be the future at his position for the Italian national team, and he's already made twelve appearances with the senior side. He's a very mobile defender who's good at getting to where he needs to be, and is also quite strong in the air.
As for Cannavaro, well, as much-loved as Napoli's captain is, it's also impossible to deny that he's just not as good as he was even a couple of years ago. Last season was a lesson in how to watch a player regress before your eyes, and it was painful to see. Walter apparently still trusts him, though, which is something that can't be said of most of his defenders.
This obviously wouldn't be a straight swap of the two players. Ranocchia is clearly the more valuable player in spite of his own fall from favor, and Napoli would have to kick in a few million euros at the least in order to get him. As long as that fee doesn't get too high, though, it's a deal that makes a lot of sense for Napoli, as well as for Inter to some extent, and it's one that I could fully get behind. There is the oddity of these reports originating from a Roman paper to get past, but this is Italy, and this is Calcio. Stranger things have happened.