Napoli lie just off the cusp of Europe’s top sides, with the Italian side coming closest to Juventus in the past recent seasons. In fact, the Gli Azzurri have finished in the Champions League spots for seven years on the trot, but with limited finances, only once got within touching distance of the Old Lady.
The Naples outfit have also become a dangerous threat in Europe, reaching the knockouts of the Champions League or Europa League every year this decade. They have work to do to overturn a 2-0 deficit to Arsenal in the Europa quarters, but with a vicious front three of Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne, anything is possible.
Napoli have not lifted the Serie A title since 1990, and with just two Coppa Italias this century, they need to start backing up their pedigree with silverware. That is your task as you usurp Carlo Ancelotti as Napoli boss on Football Manager 2019, as RealSport give you everything there is to know about setting up with the Italian giants.
With Napoli a strong team but struggling to secure silverware, it will come as a huge relief there are no philosophies you need to follow as the new manager. You can present your own to the board, but for the first season at least, give yourself free rein in charge.
As for your expectations, you will need to qualify for the Champions Cup by finishing in the top four in Serie A. In Europe, you will need to do better than the current campaign, and reach the first knockout round of the Champions Cup. Targeting the quarter-finals will grant you an extra £1.4 million for your transfer budget. Lastly, for the Italian Cup you need to reach the semi-finals, but if you aim for the final you will receive an extra £900,000.
There are various tactical styles you can use at Napoli, but with some version of a 4-3-3 likely to be your chosen formation, we have gone for a Sarriball esque vertical tiki-taka. Alternatives include control possession, fluid counter-attack, tiki-taka or wing play.
Napoli have played around with their system under Carlo Ancelotti, but we have stuck to their most familiar 4-1-4-1 DM Wide formation. A straight 4-3-3 or an aggressive 4-2-4 are your other options.
Youngster Alex Meret gets the nod over David Ospina in goal, with the back four made up by Elseid Hysaj, Raul Albiol, Kalidou Koulibaly and Mario Rui. Faouzi Ghoulam will come in at left back when he returns from injury.
Allan ensures balance at defensive midfield, with Piotr Zielinski and Amadou Diawara slightly further ahead in the middle of the park.
Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne will cause havoc in attack, with Arkadiusz Milik providing a traditional number 9 option off the bench.
In Italy, you can have up to 12 subs on the bench, meaning the rest of the Napoli squad will be able to cause an impact. Milik, Simone Verdi and Fabian will be the three who will feature most for you this season.
Napoli have some top-class talent, but it is their lack of depth that means they can’t quite juggle all the competitions or pick up silverware. These are the men that will need to drag the rest of the squad to new heights.
Kalidou Koulibaly – CA 4 star (168), PA 4 star (171)
Kalidou Koulibaly is among the best centre halves in the world, with the Senegal international attracting attention from Europe every transfer window. Aged 27, he is on the cusp of his prime and into his fifth season at Napoli, you could see a move materialising soon.
You will desperate to keep the defender with his 168 current ability able to improve to a potential of 171. On FM his best stats are 19 strength, 19 balance and 18 marking, valuing him at £55 million with wages of £110,000 a week.
Lorenzo Insigne – CA 4 star (167), PA 4 star (169)
Lorenzo Insigne is the biggest attacking threat at the club, having netting 76 goals and 70 assists for Napoli. The 27-year-old is also at a key stage of his career and is in a position for the team to be built around him.
A 167 CA for Insigne can rise to a 169 potential, with stats of 18 agility, 18 first touch and 17 passing. Italian international Insigne is valued at £62 million with wages of £145,000 a week.
Dries Mertens – CA 4 star (161), PA 4 star (167)
Dries Mertens was the stat of recent seasons with 27 goals and 11 assists in league alone in 16/17. The 31-year-old’s best years may be behind him but 11 goals and 10 assists this terms show he still holds plenty to upset defences, either up front or out on the left.
Mertens’ 161 CA has fallen from a 167 potential, but he still has skills of 18 off the ball, 17 agility and 17 finishing on the game. The Belgian is valued at £48 million and has wages of £130,000 a week.
The Napoli academy isn’t glittered in history with Fabio Cannavaro and current star Lorenzo Insigne the only big names to have had consistent success. A couple of youngsters will be looking to change that for you on FM.
Gianluca Gaetano – CA 1.5 star (93), PA 2-3 star (130-160)
Gianluca Gaetano has just one first team appearance for Napoli, coming last season, but his form for the Primavera side should mean he will add to this. 26 goals and 14 assists have come in the last two seasons for the attacking midfielder, so expect him to come in to your plans in the back end of the campaign. The 18-year-old’s 93 CA on FM can improve to a potential between 130 and 160, meaning he is valued at £180,000.
Ciro Palmieri – CA 1.5 star (83), PA 2-3 star (120-150)
It’s a similar case for 18-year-old Ciro Palmieri, who has netted 15 goals in the past two campaigns for Napoli Primavera. The youngster can play as a left winger or striker, but his 180cm height means he isn’t short, sharp forward like Insigne or Mertens. An 83 CA can rise to a potential between 120 and 150, seeing him valued at £90,000.
Francesco Mezzoni – CA 1 star (82), PA 1.5-2.5 star (120-150)
Francesco Mezzoni is a controlling right midfielder, with the 18-year-old picking up six assists for the Primavera this season. Aged 18, a loan move to a lower league Italian club may be on the cards, with his 82 CA able to improve to a potential between 120 and 150.
|First touch||Wage budget|
|Free kick taking|
|Star defenders (Elseid Hysaj, Faouzi Ghoulam, Kalidou Koulibaly)|
Team Leaders - Lorenzo Insigne (VC), Dries Mertens, Raul Albiol
Highly influential - Jose Callejon, Kalidou Koulibaly, Allan, Faouzi Ghoulam, Elseid Hysaj, Piotr Zielinski
Due to the mid-season departure of Marek Hamsik, no one has yet been appointed club captain of Napoli on FM 19.
The Transfer Market
Starting transfer budget: £26 million
Remaining wage budget: £20,000 a week
Players to sell
With a small squad, you can’t afford to sell too many players during the summer transfer window. You do have options at centre back, with Vlad Chiriches’ spot in the side fairly redundant at fourth choice in the role. Sebastiano Luperto is showing enough promise to deputise if called upon, so you can sell former Tottenham man Chiriches for around £7 million. More welcome than this will be the £54,000 a week you free up in your wage budget.
New transfer budget: £33 million
Remaining wage budget: £74,000 a week
Strong defensive midfielder
There are couple of players who can do a job as a defensive midfielder, but if you someone who is more natural there, your squad will immediately looked more balanced. It’s a surprise you don’t have more cash with Marek Hamsik only heading to China for £11 million in February.
The best choice at DM looks to be Thomas Partey. The Atletico Madrid man looks to be out of favour at the Wanda Metropolitano and can be picked up for a bargain £15 million on FM. The 25-year-old can improve from a 147 CA to a potential of 162, with his best stats currently 17 teamwork, 16 natural fitness and 16 work rate. The Ghanaian international has wages of £42,000 a week.
|Thomas Partey||25||A. Madrid||Ghana||147/ 162||£11m||£42k|
|Francis Coquelin||27||Valencia||France||150/ 155||£14m||£63k|
|William Carvalho||26||Real Hispalis||Portugal||150/ 160||£15m||£53k|
|Danilo Pereira||26||FCP||Portugal||150/ 157||£21m||£33k|
|Charles Aranguiz||29||Bayer Leverkusen||Chile||150/ 150||£25m||£51k|
|Ljubomir Fejsa||29||SLB||Serbia||148/ 156||£20m||£37k|
Just one player has a contract running out at the end of the season, youngster Gianluca Gaetano. He is a long-term prospect so issue him a new deal, and just bear in mind star men Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon will be out of contract next year.
Napoli don’t spend big, so their finances do look in decent health. The overall balance of the squad is on the rise, but the profits look set to decrease after the end of the season. Qualifying for the Champions League and picking up a trophy could help this rise. What will please you most is the transfer budget set to hit around £54 million next season. It’s not huge, but should be just enough to improve the squad.
Claim that title
The Serie A title may just be out of reach, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus, but with him aging and Juve stalling, there could be chance in the years ahead. If you invest well over the next couple of seasons, ensure you keep qualifying for the Champions League and get out the group stage, something will happen. Look to target the league title in your second or third season at the club, with a Serie A success changing the whole landscape of the club.
Full Napoli player ratings
|Player||Age||Pos||Role||Duty||Role Ability||CA/ PA|
|Alex Meret||21||GK||SK||Defend Support||3 stars||139/ 169|
|Elseid Hysaj||24||DR||WB FB||Any||3 stars||147/ 156|
|Raul Albiol||32||DC||Any||Defend Stopper Cover Support||3 stars||150/ 161|
|Kalidou Koulibaly||27||DC||CD NCB BPD||Defend Cover||4 stars||168/ 171|
|Mario Rui||27||DL WBL||WB FB||Any||3 stars||143/ 147|
|Allan||27||MC DM||BBM||Support||4 stars||160/ 164|
|Piotr Zielinski||24||MC||AP DLP Mezzala||Support Attack||3.5 stars||153/ 161|
|Amadou Diawara||21||MC DM||CM BBM DLP||Support Auto Defend||3 stars||144/ 160|
|Jose Callejon||31||AMR MR||Winger AP||Support Attack||3.5 stars||158/ 162|
|Lorenzo Insigne||27||AML ST||IF AP||Support Attack||4 stars||167/ 169|
|Dries Mertens||31||ST AML||AF IF||Attack||4 stars||161/ 167|
|David Ospina||29||GK||SK GK||Any||2.5 stars||139/ 155|
|Orestis Karnezis||33||GK||SK GK||Any||2.5 stars||130/ 139|
|Nicolas Maksimovic||26||DC||BPD NCB CD||Any||2.5 stars||135/ 145|
|Vlad Chiriches||28||DC||BPD Libero||Any||2.5 stars||134/ 147|
|Sebastiano Luperto||21||DC||CD NCB BPD||Defend Stopper||2.5 stars||125/ 159|
|Kevin Malcuit||27||DR WBR||WB CWB FB||Any||2.5 stars||134/ 143|
|Fabian||22||MC ML AMC||DLP AP CM||Any||3 stars||143/ 164|
|Simone Verdi||26||AMR AMC||IF||Support Attack||3 stars||146/ 154|
|Adam Ounas||21||AMR MR AML||IF IW||Support Attack||2.5 stars||133/ 153|
|Gianluca Gaetano||18||AMC ST||None||None||1.5 stars||93/ <130|
|Arkadiusz Milik||24||ST||Poacher PF CF AF DLF||Attack Support||3.5 stars||152/ 158|
|Faouzi Ghoulam||27||DL||FB CWB WB||Any||3.5 stars||151/ 158|
|Amin Younes||24||AML ML||IF||Support Attack||2.5 stars||126/ 136|