Snap Judgment! – Dempsey, Altidore to Napoli?
Introducing a new feature, which may or not be repeated at any time in the future: Snap Judgment. With today’s juicy little rumor that Napoli are eying American stars Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore, here’s a quick look at why it may–or may not–make sense.
First, some quick background. Napoli finished sixth on the Serie A table last season–above historic powers Juventus–and qualified for the Europa League. Unfortunately for Napoli, the success of Slovakia starlet Marek Hamsik (12 league goals) and Italian quasi-journeyman Fabio Quagliarella attracted wandering eyes from the rest of the continent. Hamsik has been alternatively linked with Manchester United, Manchester City and Inter, while Quagliarella is the subject of rumors involving a possible 25M-Euro bid from Russian champions Rubin Kazan.
Napoli endured and interesting 2009-2010 campaign, taking just four points from its first five matches before Roberto Donadoni was relieved of his managerial duties. New skipper Walter Mazzarri abandoned the 3-5-2 formation Napoli had opened the season with, opting for a modified 4-3-2-1/3-4-2-1, with Hamsik moving up into one of the attacking midfield spots. Quagliarella lined up as opposite attacking midfielder, or as the lone forward. The two combined with Ezequiel Lavezzi to form the main attacking thrust, and the loss of one–or both–would leave Napoli painfully short of offensive talent, reliant on Lavezzi and German Denis, the 28 year-old striker.
The move may well make sense for Dempsey. Despite the heights reached by Fulham over the last year, the sad truth is that the club is limited by its size. Without a significant influx of outside cash, it will be difficult to compete year after year for a spot in Europe. With an aging team and Roy Hodgson heading north to Liverpool, Fulham is more likely to find itself in a relegation battle than in a Europa League Final. Dempsey is in the prime of his career–he should be looking to play in Europe consistently over the next two-three years, and if Hamsik leaves, Napoli’s set-up seems tailor-made for his skills.
Altidore’s decision is more difficult. His most significant consideration must be to play for a team–and more specifically, a manager–who wants to help him learn. He needs consistent playing time, whether that means in Serie A or in the English Championship. He needs to be pushed in training, day in and day out, and have a backroom staff that understand his potential–and are willing to put up with his mild immaturity when it comes to practice regimens. If Altidore can get games for Napoli, a move could make sense.