Despite the Italian transfer window being dogged with talk of Paul Pogba’s impending return to Old Trafford, Napoli are set to snap up one of Europe’s brightest – and underestimated – attacking talents in the form of Arkadiusz Milik, for a reported €25 million (plus €5 million in bonuses) as per GianlucaDiMarizo.com.
We take a look at what the clinical shot stopper has to offer and how Milik is the perfect, long term replacement following Gonzalo Higuain’s departure.
The 22-year old Poland international goes into the 2016/17 season following an impressive campaign with AFC Ajax in the Eredivisie. Bagging 21 goals in 31 league appearances last season (as per WhoScored), Milik finished as the club’s top goalscorer and came third behind AZ Alkmaar’s Vincent Jansen and PSV’s Luuk De Jong for the golden boot.
Milik’s exceptional performances have come about from will acts of instinct, prompting the young forward to act as a lone forward which has produced exceptional outcomes from inside and outside the box.
Whether he’s cutting into central channels from wider areas and opening up space in the opposing half, Milik’s movement and ability to outmaneuver defenders (similar to his Polish compatriot Robert Lewandowski) makes him a nightmare for one-to-one encounters.
Should Milik don the Partenopei jersey he’s likely to challenge Jose Callejon, Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Manolo Gabbiadini for a starting spot in Maurizo Sari’s line-up.
And while Milik’s signature could be seen as a coup by many, the void left in the wake of Higuain’s departure has far reaching consequences for Napoli’s attack and could place unwanted pressure on a still-developing forward.
Despite the club’s impressive second place finish in Serie A, it was Higuain who led the attack throughout the club’s Serie A campaign:
- Gonzalo Higuain – 35 apps / 36 goals
- Lorenzo Insigne – 37 apps / 12 goals
- Jose Callejon – 38 apps / 7 goals
- Dries Mertens – 33 apps / 5 goals
- Manolo Gabbiadini – 23 apps / 5 goals
(Above figures sourced from WhoScored.com)
At the expense of Higuian’s phenomenal season, Napoli’s other attacking options have suffered in returns on goals. Not only does this raise questions over the ability of the club’s attack but fans will now ask whether Milik can plug up the hole in Sari’s squad.
Milik’s transition to Italian football is likely to be a defining chapter in the young player’s career. Succeed and he could establish himself as a cult-hero for a fan base that’s desperately looking to claim to Scudetto this season, whilst seeing his reputation enhance across the continent.
But the forward must first emerge from Higuain’s shadow and demonstrate to critics that he can be the architect Napoli need to secure domestic and European success.