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|SoccerAnchor Serie A Special: Where will Napoli's Ezequiel Lavezzi end up?|
SoccerAnchor have already taken a look at what the respective clubs need on the transfer market, but where could some of the big-name players end up by August? SoccerAnchor's Amlan Majumdar explores the future of Napoli's Ezequiel Lavezzi..
Nearly nine years back, when Ezequiel Lavezzi started playing for Estudiantes, he was dubbed as the ‘new Maradona’. While he didn’t quite turn out to Diego Maradona (Who would?), he did sign up for the club Maradona played for, Napoli. The rest, as they say, was history.
Presently the Argentinean forward is one of the hottest property in Europe. He has been instrumental in taking the Azzurri back into the Champions league and back among the Europe’s elite. His quick feet and sharpness in and around the box has won him a lot of admirers. With the holy trinity of Lavezzi, Hamsik and Cavani in the team, Napoli has one of the most feared attacks in Europe. Recently they defeated Juventus in the Coppa Italia final, to win their first major trophy in nearly 22 years.
Lavezzi not only scores goals, but also sets them up for his team mates. He has racked up a total of 48 goals and 49 assists in 188 appearance for Napoli. Now at the prime of his career, talks about his exit from the club is substantive.
Lot of clubs have been linked with a move for El Pocho. Here is a look at who has the best chance of landing him.
Ever since PSG has been taken over by QIA (Qatar Investment Authority), it has been linked with nearly every player who plays football, and Ezequiel Lavezzi is the latest target on their radar.
Carlo Ancelotti has recently confirmed their interest in Lavezzi. Talking to press he has said - “For now we have not done anything about Lavezzi, but he matches our targets. The priority for us is a striker”
PSG has been in the market looking for a striker. Earlier they have been linked with players like Carlos Tevez, Pato, Higuain and Soldado. Pato, if reports were to be believed, was very close to becoming a PSG player last winter, but the deal fell through at the last minute. Tevez was a similar story altogether. PSG, one thinks, will not be back for Tevez, but Ancelotti has cleared his intention of bidding for Pato again.
Higuain, Soldado and Lavezzi are more realistic targets for PSG this summer. Lavezzi, according to various media sources, has a release clause of 32 million euros in his contract. There are very few clubs who can afford that sort of money and PSG is certainly one of them. But with a likely bidding war to be started for the mercurial Argentine, that price might rise even further in an already inflated transfer market.
One feels though, Ancelotti’s first preference will be Pato or Higuain. If either of the deals fails to materialize they will look towards Lavezzi.
CHANCE OF SIGNING: 15%
Inter have had one of the most disappointing seasons in their recent history. Though Stramaccioni did well at the end of the campaign, he would be well aware that Inter need heavy reinforcement this summer to make their presence felt in Serie A next season.
Lot of departure and new arrivals is expected at San Siro this summer. One of the main problems with Inter have been in attack. They lacked ideas while going forward at times, with the attack looking very flat. There is a big question mark over Milito’s fitness and Sneijder has experienced a big dip in form. While the Dutchman is expected to leave Inter this summer, Massimo Moratti will know he has one of the toughest transfer window in his reign coming up.
Lavezzi has been linked with a move to Inter for a long time now. Massimo Moratti in a recent interview on Solo Inter, the radio programme produced by Inter Club Malta, when asked about Lavezzi, said – "For the moment I think that's another deal that, if it is to happen, will have to be done very patiently and paying attention to the financial aspects."
If the Italian media are to be believed, Napoli and Inter have long been in negotiation with each other for the transfer of Lavezzi. Inter offered 15 million euros, Goran Pandev and Andrea Faraoni's ownership to Napoli for the sale of forward. But Azzurri are willing to sign Joel Obi instead of Faraoni, and many believe this has caused the negotiations to stall. It is also believed that Inter will try to renegotiate with Giampaolo Pazzini, Andrea Ranocchia or Andrea Dossena being included in the deal.
One thing though that goes against Inter is the fact that they won’t compete in Champions league next season. If Lavezzi gets an offer from a club who are playing in the champions league, he might very well choose them over Inter. Inter has lined up Rodrigo Palacio and Iker Muniain as back-up plans if Lavezzi’s deal doesn’t goes through.
CHANCE OF SIGNING: 40%
MANCHESTER CITY / CHELSEA
Both the English clubs are set to bid for Lavezzi this summer. Manchester City in fact has shown greater interest in the Napoli forward. Infact last winter Manchester City assistant manager Fausto Salsano has declared to Tuttosport: "We have been tracking Hamsik since he was at Brescia, while we think that Lavezzi is impressive".
While regarding Chelsea’s interest in him, Lavezzi has said “I know Chelsea are interested in me but my agent and the club are dealing with all that.”. So both the cash rich clubs are all set to get into a bidding war for Lavezzi along with PSG and Inter. Lavezzi in fact gave Chelsea a glimpse of what he is capable of in Napoli's knock-out round clash with the London side in Champions league.
Manchester City many believe will let go of Balotelli and Tevez this summer, while Adebayor is unlikely to return to the club. Hence they will look for a suitable replacement in the striking department. Chelsea on the other hand have already seen Anelka depart this season and with Didier Drogba on his way out of the club, the London club do look thin up front. Lavezzi will be a massive signing for both of the clubs.
CHANCE OF SIGNING – Chelsea : 20%, Manchester City : 20%
REMAIN AT NAPOLI
It looks highly unlikely that Lavezzi will remain with the Italian club next season. After Sunday’s historic victory over Juventus in the Coppa Italia final Napoli president De Laurentiis has said this about Lavezzi’s future at the club “He is 27, we will let him decide his fate. He has a buy-out clause, if anyone meets this figure, he will go. These five years with him have been very good and they will not be erased from the memory.".
Laurentiis has never tried to bend the fact that Lavezzi, Hamsik and Cavani is up for sale, but he is particular about the fact that they bidding club must meet their expected transfer fee. Laurentiis won’t budge from the 32 million Euro release clause in Lavezzi’s contract which runs upto 2015. He knows, a bidding war is likely to happen between cash rich club for his prized asset. Napoli have reportedly lined up Pablo Daniel Osvaldo of AS Roma if Lavezzi or Cavani leaves the club this summer. In recent times, even Anzhi Makhachkala and Zenit St Petersburg are also said to have shown their interest for Lavezzi.
Where El Pocho will go next season still remain unsure, but Sunday’s win against Juventus was perhaps his last match in a Napoli shirt, and he has signed off in style.
CHANCE OF SIGNING – 5%
Inter Milan looks to be the most possible destination at the moment, but one can never rule out PSG, Manchester City and Chelsea in transfer market. But Lavezzi knows that, at Manchester City or Chelsea he might not get first team opportunity as regularly as he can get at Inter or PSG. This summer expect a tug-of-war between these clubs for the signing of this mercurial Argentine forward.