For years the Napoli faithful have cherished the legacy of Diego Maradona. The Argentine legend who guided them to two Serie A triumphs. Since his departure from the club, they have failed to reach the top of the summit again. But it all changed on Wednesday night when Napoli played out a 1-1 draw at Udinese that secured the Scudetto for them. Victor Osimhen’s 52nd-minute equalizer sent the city of Naples into raptures as the Neapolitans celebrated their first Serie A title in 33 years.
How did Napoli claim their first Serie A title in 33 years?
Since 1990, Napoli have come close to winning the Serie A title on numerous occasions but have fallen short of their target every time. But this season Spalletti’s men have played brilliant football that has led them to a well-deserved title victory. Let’s examine how Napoli claimed a trophy that has eluded them for so long.
Clever Summer Signings
The summer transfer window is a very crucial stage of the season. Finding the right player for the right price that fits easily into your playing style is a very tough job. But Napoli have made that look easy as all of their summer signings have exceeded expectations and have played a vital role in claiming their first Serie A title.
Signing the right players was of paramount importance to Napoli as core members of their club departed in the summer transfer window. Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, Fabian Ruiz, and Kalidou Koulibaly all left the city of Naples with each one of them having spent at least five seasons at the club.
Kim Min-Jae and Mathías Olivera were signed at the beginning of the 2022 summer transfer window. Both have been a revelation in Napoli’s defense this season. The South Korean international, Kim, was signed from Fenerbahçe SK for £16.4 million whereas the Uruguayan, Olivera, arrived from Getafe for £10 million. Both have helped in keeping Napoli’s backline intact which has led to them conceding only 23 goals this season. Only Barcelona have conceded fewer goals than them among the top 5 European leagues.
Another wise decision by Luciano Spalletti was to make André Zambo Anguissa’s loan move from Fulham to Napoli a permanent one. The Cameroonian was an important part of Spalletti’s midfield last season. His performances prompted the Napoli board to sign him on a permanent deal. And one can safely say that he has managed to live up to the expectations of Neapolitans this season.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has been the find of the season for Napoli. The Georgian international has gone from being a nobody to being a world-beater. He signed from the Georgian side Dinamo Batumi for £8.5 million. Not many knew about the 22-year-old at the start of the season, but he took the Serie A by storm. Going from an ordinary Georgian league into a more challenging and physical Italian league was a big step up for him. But he has adapted well into Luca Spalletti’s system. The energetic winger has 12 goals and 10 assists to his name this season. His goal contributions have played a major role in claiming the first Serie A title in 33 years for Napoli.
Lack of fight shown by rival title contenders
No one can deny the hard work and effort put in by the Napoli players this season to claim the Scudetto. They have been on another level this season and have played far superior football than their opponents. But at the same time, there has been a significant drop in the performance of their title rivals. The likes of Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter Milan have been way off their usual standards this season. This has really helped Luciano Spalletti’s men to march on towards their first Serie A title in 33 years with five games to spare.
As it stands, Napoli are 17 points clear of Juventus and 19 points ahead of the two Milan clubs. Such a big gap in the league could be attributed to the fact that all three clubs have been indulged in the knockout stages of different European competitions.
The only team that has stood up to Napoli’s title surge is Lazio. This is quite amazing from a side that has only finished in the Top four twice in the previous ten seasons. Despite that Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio put up a great fight against Spalletti’s side, but unfortunately, they could not stop them from lifting the Serie A title. Other than that, it has been a one-horse race in the Serie A this season.
What’s Next for Napoli?
This was indeed a brilliant season for Napoli where they managed to exceed all expectations. They were supposed to be a team in transition after key members of their squad left at the beginning of the season. But their shrewd recruitment in the summer transfer window prevented that from happening and took them to new heights. Now they need to make sure that they stick with these players next season because top European clubs will certainly be keeping tabs on the likes of Kim Min-Jae and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.