For months now, there have been transfer rumors swirling around Marek Hamšík, with links to big clubs all over Europe, but especially to Manchester United. Many have assumed for some reason that after arguably his toughest season with Napoli, Hamšík would be ready to leave this summer, but the Slovakian midfielder took to the airwaves to dismiss any such notions.
Speaking to Radio Kisskiss yesterday morning, Hamšík made sure to highlight his connection with the fanbase. "I thank the fans for the affection they have always shown me. These have been seven splendid years together and we will continue in future too. I want to repay the people for their faith," Hamšík said, emphasizing just how long he's been around.
The Slovakian joined Napoli during a tough time in the club's history, while Napoli's competitive and financial footings weren't nearly as secure as they are now. He's stuck with the club through thick and thin, despite a number of opportunities to jump ship over the years. Every time some other big club has come sniffing around, Hamšík has dug in a little deeper and reaffirmed his commitment to the club and the city, and this time has been no different.
That loyalty was rewarded this past season in the form of an extra piece of cloth that means so much more. For the past couple of years, Hamšík has essentially served as the vice-captain while Gianluca Grava faded off in to the sunset. This season, with Paolo Cannavaro not in the plans of new manager Rafa Benitez, Hamšík stepped up in to the full captaincy without any hesitation, and did the job admirably. His efforts in the role were on no greater display than when he talked down and reassured a very angry group of Napoli supporters before the start of the Coppa Italia final, allowing the match to go on and ultimately lead Napoli to the title.
The captaincy is a role he's taken with pride, with Hamšík telling his interviewer that he is "happy and proud to wear the captain’s armband. I will never forget lifting the Coppa Italia trophy for the rest of my life. It made me so proud. It was a great season and a fantastic Champions League campaign, while we must improve in Serie A. I’ve been here for seven years, the growth process continues and we hope to do even better."
As for Rafa and his project, Hamšík seems to trust where the manager is taking the club, despite coming up short in the Champions League group stage and fading badly in the second half of the league season. "I have always said and will continue say I believe in this project and want to continue so I can win with Napoli," he said. "We really want to win the Scudetto and the club will improve the squad so that we can reach this objective. It was important to win in the first year under Rafa Benitez, as it’s tough starting a new journey with a new Coach and many different players."
Hopefully this will finally put most of the rumors to bed. We've talked about how ludicrous they are over and over and over again the past few months, but they just keep on coming back around like clockwork. Perhaps with such a firm statement of commitment to his club's cause by Hamšík will make the rumor mongers spreading this swill realize that they're on the wrong track.