Football Manager 2018: Napoli Guide, Player Ratings & Tactics

Currently at the top of the Serie A table, can you recreate Napoli’s success and perhaps go all the way to the title on FM 18?

Alastair Pusinelli by Alastair Pusinelli

Napoli fans have suffered close to 30 years of hurt, with no Serie A title since 1990. However, the current squad have the capability to change that, currently leading the Scudetto, as they look to become the first side in seven years to topple Juventus and claim the league title.

With so much attacking talent in their squad, Napoli can cause havoc against any defence, making them a very exciting team to manage on Football Manager 2018.


Napoli Chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis will welcome you to the club and discuss with you them club’s philosophies. Currently there are none, meaning you can do what you want with the club.


De Laurentiis will then issue the expectations for the season. These can be adjusted for a larger transfer budget, but the default is to qualify for the EURO Champions Cup and reach the first knockout round in the Champions Cup this season. Targeting the quarterfinals will give you an extra £1 million in your transfer budget. The Italian Cup is marked as not important.


Transfer: £14.26 million

Wage: £1.63m per week (Current spend: £1.61m)


With their pace up front, Napoli are most suited to a 4-3-3 wide formation. Your big decision comes in midfield as you look to get the right balance between attack and defence.

Former Liverpool man Pepe Reina goes in between the sticks, and he has Elseid Hysaj, Kalidou Koulibaly, Raul Albiol and Faouzi Ghoulam in the back four.

Jorginho, Allan and Marek Hamsik provide a balanced midfield three, but Amadou Diawara and Piotr Zielinski are other valid options.

Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne flank Dries Mertens in attack, although Arkadiusz Milik can provide a more conventional striker option if you prefer.

On the bench you should opt for Luigi Sepe, Vlad Chiriches, Mario Rui, Amadou Diawara, Piotr Zielinski, Emanuele Giaccherini and Arkadiusz Milik.

Key Players

The attacking talent at Napoli is frightening, and the amount goals you should score with these three in your side can push you towards the title.

Marek Hamsik – CA 4 star (167), PA 4 star (170)

Marek Hamsik recently became Napoli’s all-time top scorer, overtaking the great Diego Maradona. Midfielder Hamsik has been at the club for over a decade now and is the heartbeat of the team. At the age of 30, he may only have a couple of seasons left at his best, so you must capitalise on this with silverware. 

The Slovakian international has a 167 current ability score, which can still get back towards his 170 potential. 20 loyalty, 18 professionalism and 18 off the ball are the central or attacking midfielder’s best stats.

Dries Mertens – CA 3.5 star (165), PA 3.5 star (167)

Considering he is naturally a winger, Dries Mertens has become one of the premier strikers in world football. The Belgian banged in 34 goals last season and you must hope for a similar return for the 30-year-old in your FM save if you are to challenge for trophies.

Winger or striker Mertens offers a 165 CA rating, which is just two shy of his 167 potential. 17 finishing, 17 first touch and 17 agility him a fantastic outlet for your side. 

Lorenzo Insigne – CA 4 star (163), PA 4 star (172)

Another goal outlet, left winger Insigne scored 20 goals last season. With Mertens in the central role and Jose Callejon out wide on the right, Napoli have an exciting, fluid front three which can rip defences apart with their movement.

The 26-year-old Insigne has a 163 current ability rating, rising to a 172 potential. 18 agility, 18 first touch and 18 flair make the wide man a threat for your side.

Young Talent

The likes of Fabio Cannavaro and Lorenzo Insigne made it through from the youth sector at Napoli, and there are some talented players in the current crop of youngsters. 

Leandrinho – CA 2 star (105), PA 2-3 star (130-160)

With 11 goals in 16 games for Brazil U17s, you know Leandrinho is set for big things. The 18-year-old arrived in Naples in January 2017 after impressing in his homeland, but he is yet to make his first senior appearance for Napoli. 

The left winger or striker has a respectable 105 CA, which can rise to a talented potential between 130 and 160. 

Alessio Zerbin – CA 1.5 star (88), PA 2.5-3.5 star (130-160)

Also waiting for a first team call up is 18-year-old Alessio Zerbin. Also a left winger or striker, Zerbin has netted four goals in six games in the UEFA Youth League this season and has worked his way up to Italy U18 level.

On FM, Zerbin’s 88 CA can rise to a potential between 130 and 160.

Raffaele Russo – CA 1.5 star (92), PA 2-3 star (120-150)

Slightly behind Leandrinho and Zerbin in his development is Raffaele Russo. The 18-year-old Italian scored nine times for the youth team last season, but it still may be a while before he flirts with first team action. 

The winger or striker has a 92 current ability score, rising to a potential as high as 150. 

Team Report

Passing Wage Budget
Youth Prospects Jumping Reach
Left Wing Depth
First Touch
Star Defender (Kalidou Koulibaly)
Star Midfielders (Jose Callejon, Marek Hamsik)
Right Back Depth
Left Back Depth
Overall Depth
Work Rate
Transfer Budget
Coaching Staff
Scouting Staff


Team Leaders – Marek Hamsik (C), Camilo Zuniga, Lorenzo Insigne

Highly influential – Claudio Maggio (vice-captain), Pepe Reina, Raul Albiol, Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon, Faouzi Ghoulam, Kalidou Koulibaly, Jorginho

A new feature for Football Manager 2018, Dynamics shown the atmosphere inside the dressing room at the club. It is vital you identify which players hold influence over the squad as upsetting one of them can have massive consequences. If the atmosphere and morale is low, you will see the impact it has on the pitch.

Transfer Targets

A transfer budget of £14 million should give you just enough to bring in one new signing, and you should look to add depth to your squad. 

Right wing back up – Jesus Corona (CA 144, PA 155)

Your front three can all play in wide areas, but outside of that you only have Emanuele Giaccherini and Adam Ounas who are a serious drop off in quality from messieurs Callejon, Insigne and Mertens. Right winger Jesus Corona can provide the tonic, with the potential to grow into a first team regular. You can pick up the Porto man for £15 million, so you just need to sell off one player to make room in your budget for him. The Mexico international has wages of £27,500 a week, with stats of 17 dribbling, 17 technique and 17 flair.

Alternative options:

  • Everton Ribeiro – Age 28, FLA, Brazil, CA 145, PA 161, Value: £10m, Wage: £45k
  • Eduardo Salvio – Age 27, SLB, Argentina, CA 144, PA 152, Value: £10m, Wage: £41k
  • Keko – Age 25, Malaga, Spain, CA 144, PA 152, Value: £11m, Wage: £25k
  • Gelson Martins – Age 22, Sporting, CA 150, PA 170, Value: £13m, Wage: £30k

Players to sell

In order to bring in Corona, you will need to take in just £800,000 in to your transfer budget, would should be fairly straightforward. Just identify which players will struggle for game time this season due to their lack of quality.


With a 125 current ability rating, Rafael is your third choice goalkeeper, and you are likely to bring in a new stopper in a couple of seasons anyway. He may have a 139 potential, but you are better off selling the Brazilian and taking in £2 million and saving £38,000 a week in wages.

Marco Supino

It’s surprising to see Marco Supino in the first team squad, and on closer inspection the youngster is never going to make the grade at the Stadio San Paolo. The centre back has a CA of just 64, with a  maximum potential of only 120. Sell the 21-year-old and receive £36,000, making a £500 a week saving on wages. 


Not known for having financial prowess, the current situation at Napoli is ok but not great. The overall balance of the club is on the up, and you are in line to have £25 million in your transfer budget next season. That said, the club’s profit will turn to loss at the turn of the year, with no sign of improvement. 

Is this the year?

With a couple of players around that 30 mark, you wonder that when they start to decline, Napoli could plummet towards mid-table. The only way to prevent that is creating success now, which can help the finances to bring in new talent in years to come, so your first two seasons at the club are vital. One or two signings will make a massive difference, but be sure to rotate your players to keep them fresh for the big games, and if you get it right, there is no reason you can’t lift the Serie A title in your first season in charge.  

Napoli first team squad, player roles and ratings

Role   Ability
Starting  Lineup
Pepe Reina 34 GK Sweeper Keeper Attack 3 star 146/
Elseid Hysaj 23 DR Wing-Back Defend 3 star 146/
Kalidou Koulibaly 26 DCR Defensive Centre Back Any 3.5 star 155/
Raul Albiol 31 DCL Central Defender Defend 3.5 star 148/
Faouzi Ghoulam 26 DL Full-Back Attack 3 star 146/
Jorginho 25 MCR Deep Lying Playmaker Defend 3.5 star 152/
Allan 26 MC Box to Box Midfielder Support 3.5 star 149/
Marek Hamsik 30 MCL Advanced Playmaker Support 4 star 167/
Jose Callejon 30 AMR Raumdeuter Attack 4 star 161/
Lorenzo Insigne 26 AML Inside Forward Support 4 star 163/
Dries Mertens 30 STC False Nine/
3.5 star 165/
Luigi Sepe 26 GK Goalkeeper Defend 2 star 126/
Vlad Chiriches 27 D (C) Ball Playing Defender Defend 3 star 140/
Mario Rui 26 D (L)
WB (L)
M (L)
Full-Back Attack 2.5 star 137/
Amadou Diawara 20 DM
M (C)
Ball Winning Midfielder/
Deep Lying Playmaker
3.5 star 148/
Piotr Zielinski 23 M (C)
AM (C)
Advanced Playmaker Support 3 star 152/
Emanuele Giaccherini 32 M (RLC)
Inside Forward Support 2.5 star 137/
Arkadiusz Milik 23 ST (C) Complete Forward Attack 3 star 146/
Rafael 27 GK Goalkeeper Defend 2 star 125/
Nikola Maksimovic 25 D (RLC) Ball Playing Defender/
Defensive Centre Back
3 star 138/
Lorenzo Tonelli 27 D (C) Central Defender Defend/
3 star 137/
Marco Supino 21 D (C) Central Defender Stopper 1 star 64/
Christian Maggio 35 D (R)
WB (R)
M (R)
Full-Back Attack 2.5 star 129/
Camilo Zuniga 31 D (RL)
M (RL)
Full-Back Attack 2.5 star 126/
Marko Rog 22 M (C)
AM (C)
Box To Box Midfielder/
3 star 140/
Adam Ounas 20 AM (RLC) Inside Forward Support 2.5 star 132/

How is your FM save going? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Alastair Pusinelli

First console: GameBoy Color / Favourite Game: Assassin's Creed 2 / Currently playing: Football Manager 2020