Rudi Garcia (right) has a tough job after taking over the champions Naples By Luciano Spalletti (ANSA)
Napoli are heading into their first title defense in over three decades with questions over whether the new management will be willing to repeat last season’s stunning charge to glory.
Rudi Garcia will make his official debut on Saturday as Napoli kicks off the 2023/24 season in promoted Frosinone with a squad similar to the one that launched into the Scudetto and became ItalyFourth different champions in as many years.
The Frenchman, who replaced title-winning coach Luciano Spalletti, is the main factor in doubts about Napoli’s credentials this season.
Garcia bucked the trend by leaving Kingdom of Saudi Arabiawho were sacked by Al-Nassr in April shortly after their signing Cristiano Ronaldo And before the country’s clubs started a huge money wave fueled the frenzy in Europe.
The 59-year-old knows Italian football thanks to his time Romewho led him to the Champions League in 2014 and 2015 and like Spalletti has plenty of charisma.
But his only honors as a coach came 12 years ago when he won a league and cup double with Lille, the Europa League final with Marseille in 2018 and the French League Cup final with Lyon two years later and he has come the closest to glory since then. .
– Stars are staying –
Playing for him is Napoli keeping the attacking star Victor Osimhenwho is likely to sign a contract extension until 2026 in the coming weeks and will lead the course again after scoring 31 goals last season.
Osimhen’s crime attacking partner Khvisha Kvaratskhelia He was never likely to leave, but it is a sign of how structurally healthy Napoli are, with last season’s top scorer and superstar happily staying put.
And bar kim min jae who left for Bayern MunichNapoli kept everyone involved in the Scudetto triumph while none of their rivals had a great summer in the transfer market.
Both clubs need to sign a striker Inter Edin Dzeko and Romelu Lukaku have both lost and replaced them so far only Marcus Thuram – from 16 with Borussia Monchengladbach Last season was his best – most likely veteran Marko Arnautovic.
The losing Champions League finalists also spent more time than many thought necessary to sign the goalkeeper. Jan Sommer For six million euros after mobilizing nearly 10 times that figure by selling Andre Onana to Manchester United.
Milan In the meantime we put the huge fees obtained from Newcastle United to Sandro Tonali To good use, it brought in eight new players including two more from Chelsea in Christian Pulisic And Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
But they don’t have a real vice up front for the former bluesman Olivier Giroudwho is 36 and cannot be counted on to lead the line alone during a grueling campaign that ends with Euro 2024.
– Uncertain competitors –
And the players they brought in looking to either revive their careers or the exciting young players at a pivotal moment, like Yunus Musa or Samuel Chukwuezewho have not yet fully established themselves.
LazioSergei Milinkovic-Savic, who finished close to Napoli last season, lost out to Saudi money, but in Tati Castellanos he finally got someone who could support the club’s aging icon. Siro is not moving.
conventional strength Juventus They were knocked out of Europe this year thanks to UEFA’s ban on financial fair play violations related to the scandals that derailed their entire campaign last time out.
With a required reset Juventus have kept a low profile, Timothy Weah from their most famous signing Lille as they try to chip away at the deadwood and reset costs.
Atalanta can no longer be considered a surprise signing after establishing themselves as one of the best clubs in Italy.
But after bringing the likes Gianluca Scamaka And Al-Bilal Toure is another fun, offensive season awaits her in Bergamo, and the first four places are a realistic goal, with the rest of the major clubs in the division in a state of uncertainty.
tambourine / mw