Napoli’s mercato heading into the 2019-20 Serie A season has been nothing short of exciting. With the likes of Hirving “Chucky” Lozano and James Rodriguez linked the club, fans have been enthusiastic regarding the steps taken by the club to improve the squad after a frustrating league campaign in the 18/19 season.
In addition to the improvements looking to be made on the attacking front, Carlo Ancelotti has also been looking to reinforce the defense as well. The recent news of Raul Albiol’s impending departure from the club make this reinforcement, and who it is that will fill in the hole left by Albiol, crucial.
The identified replacement for Albiol? Kostas Manolas.
No Introduction Needed
Any fan of Serie A has taken notice of the Roma defender’s career up to this point. Manolas has become one of the best defenders in the league and has attracted attention from the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League, as well as Inter and Juventus within Serie A. Prior to his career taking off at Roma, Manolas spent most of the beginning stages of his career in his native Greece.
The 28-year-old Greek defender spent his youth as a part of the Pannaxiakos and Thrasyvoulos youth academies, with the former being his hometown club in Naxos, located on the Cyclades island group off of mainland Greece.
Manolas broke into the Thrasyvoulos first team after the club gained promotion to the Greek Super League for the 2008-2009 season, which allowed him to be put in the spotlight for some of Greek’s biggest clubs to see. Manolas went on to sign for AEK Athens, where he won the Greek Cup, and Olympiacos, where he won two league titles, another Greek Cup, and earned a place in the Greece National Team. His play and accolades in Greece led him to his eventual move to Roma.
The Greek God in Rome
In his first year with the Giallorossi (14-15), Manolas quickly announced himself to the league by aiding Roma to a second place finish and the second best defensive record in the league with only 31 goals conceded.
Manolas’ importance to Roma’s defense was further exemplified when in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, he again helped the Giallorossi to top-three finishes and the second best defensive record in Serie A with 38 and 28 goals conceded in either season, respectively.
Manolas’ rise at Roma was a fast one, and one of the most iconic moments from it was his goal to complete Roma’s comeback against Barcelona in the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League quarterfinals. A goal that spawned the now famous quote from Peter Drury:
What Manolas Brings to Napoli
The biggest thing that has tifosi salivating at the thought of Manolas in a Napoli kit is the partnership with Kalidou Koulibaly in central defense. Koulibaly is already the best defender in Serie A and, arguably, the world, so pairing him up with another one of Serie A’s best in Manolas creates a defensive duo that will have opposing strikers shivering at the thought of having to beat them.
Standing at 6 ft 2 in, Manolas ensures no height is lost with the departure of Albiol. Also, five years younger than Albiol, the Greek international provides more longevity to the Napoli backline and allows for a more long-term partnership at the back.
Like Koulibaly, Manolas combines power and strength, making him a nightmare for attackers to beat. Furthermore, Manolas is comfortable with the ball at his feet, which will be important when playing out from the back. The only major issue with Kostas Manolas, however, is his attitude. Club President Aurelio De Laurentiis has already mentioned his worries regarding Manolas’ attitude within the dressing room.
After weeks of back-and-forth between Roma and Napoli, reliable Serie A report Gianluca Di Marzio has reported that a deal has finally been struck between the two sides. Napoli will pay the €36 million Euro clause within Manolas’ Roma contract, while the Giallorossi will pay €18 million Euros to Napoli for Amadou Diawara, all that’s required now is the finalization of personal terms with Manolas.
It seems now that Parthenope won’t be the only Greek in Naples.
By Massimo Nuzzo