Football Manager 2019: Napoli Team Guide, Player Ratings & Tactics

Napoli are a match for any side, but can you make the breakthrough a deliver a first Serie A title since 1990 for the club on FM 19?


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. 

Philosophies

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. 

Expectations

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. 

Tactical style

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. 

Formation

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.

Key players

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. 

Young talent

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. 

Team report


Strengths

Weaknesses

First touch

Wage budget

Acceleration

Overall depth

Free kick taking

Attack depth

Youth prospects

Crossing

Technique

Stamina

Star defenders (Elseid Hysaj, Faouzi Ghoulam, Kalidou Koulibaly)

Dynamics

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. 

Transfer Targets

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. 

Alternative options

Player

Age

Club

Country

CA/
PA

Value

Wage

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

Contracts

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. 

Finances

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

Starting lineup

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

Substitutes

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

Injured

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

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Alastair Pusinelli

I am RealSport's Editor-in-Chief having covered almost everything across the board on the platform. Starting with content on football and the Chinese Super League, I have expanded into esports and gaming, via a stint as rugby editor.

With RS now focused on gaming and working alongside Gfinity, I led the site's coverage on the football titles of FIFA, Football Manager and PES. This has enabled me to cover official esports events such as the FIFA eWorld Cup, FUT Champions Cups and the Gfinity FIFA Series.

Elsewhere, I have been published in The Sunday Times and Variety magazine, as well as working in the offices of Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Hampshire CCC.

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