The La Masia of The South.
In this second part of my look at the potential future of the club, I want to consider how we can create La Masia of The South and also have a bit of fun considering the lineage of great Calcio ballers from the South of Italy!
In part one I suggested purchasing and creating facilities which are world class enough to attract the best coaches and players to work with – the key question to stage 2 is… who are these players? What does the potential talent pool look like?
Some facts to begin with – I’m taking the South to mean six of the twenty regions in Italy: Abruzzo, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania and Molise. According to the Italian Office of Statistics, the population of this area is 14 million. To be put that into context, that is only a little bit less than the populations of Belgium and Croatia (World Cup Semi-Finalists) put together (15 million). There are 715 youth sides in the region which is more than both Lazio and Lombardy.
Currently Napoli is the only top flight club in this region and so, logic would suggest that we are in a very strong position to cherry pick the best young talent in this very populated region in a football-mad country. As with many things to do with SSC Napoli, logic does not apply. Our under resourced youth scouting networks and facilities often mean that The South’s best talent heads further north.
If we look at Italy’s most recent full strength squad – Verratti (Abruzzo), Donnarumma (Campania), Immobile (Campania) and Berardi (Calabria) are all players from The South who have slipped through the net. Imagine having these players in the squad?! Not only are they of league-winning standard, their local origins will make the citta stick behind them when the going gets tough.
Here’s my attempt at an all time South XI (don’t @ me – I’m sure I’ve missed all sorts out). It’s a very fun squad – imagine getting behind this team? The Stadio San Paolo would be full just to see what ridiculousness a team that contains Cassano, Matterazzi and Gattuso would get up to…
We can only find the next generation of these players if changes are made. The link with Bari is a step in the right direction and we should be able to mine that region to unearth the next Cassano!
So stage 2: invest in networks – link clubs, more scouts and a more coherent scouting structure staffing.
If the first two stages proposed here are invested in, we could combine some of our talented young squad with home grown talents to create a competitive team that also feels part of the heart beat of the region. Meret (26), Koulibaly (33), Diawara (27), Fabian (28) and Milik (30) could all still be playing in six years time for the club. This leaves some gaps to be filled by some Ciro’s, as featured below:-
What has surprised me writing this is how easy this could be. Over a five year period a club the size of Napoli with the picking of any player in a region of 14 million people must be able to find four players to enter the team. Surely!
Many of you reading this will think I am mad to think that Koulibaly will stay for another six years. Well, imagine what an investment in the club like this would say to him. Ask him to be the centre of this new Napoli and bring the next generation of players through. You might as well start making preparations for his statue outside of the San Paolo.
Step 3: Communicate to current players the project. Make them feel part of something new, something special.
By Frank Sidekick