Why Antonio Conte Would Be an Extremely Awkward Fit for Napoli

The time might be ripe for Napoli to finally land Antonio Conte, coronating their lengthy chase. They’ll have the inside track if he’s really adamant about returning to Serie A. The only realistic alternatives, Milan and Juventus, seem to have different ideas. He could obviously still change his mind if a European powerhouse came calling, offering him a boatload of money, contract-wise and on a transfer market.

The reports about his potential arrival swing back and forth depending on the week. It seemed certain a few days ago. Instead, the latest news from Radio Kiss Kiss suggest he won’t be the choice and that Aurelio De Laurentiis has already decided whom to hire but won’t announce him because he’s under contract with another team. That points in Stefano Pioli and Vincenzo Italiano’s direction.

The Economic Problems

On the other hand, should Napoli even go after Conte? His large salary request is only a small factor in making him not a palatable hire despite his caliber. Even in the most optimistic scenario, he’d earn €6.5/7M. That’s about double as much as Luciano Spalletti, Rudi Garcia, and their other recent coaches. It’s still a question mark despite the reportedly large offers for him and Luis Enrique last year.

Not the main one, though. Ambitions, prospects, roster quality and construction, and overall philosophy are bigger obstacles to a serene and successful stint. The Partenopei will be hamstrung this summer, and perhaps for a couple of years, without the Champions League. Their brass probably thinks that the departure of Victor Osimhen will offset the losses and put their payroll in order, and they might be right. Still, top players want to star in the best competitions. Their officials could try to sell them on their step back being an outlier, which might work better in Italy than abroad.

On the other hand, Napoli have rarely gone after established champions even in their most lavish stretches, generally opting for high-upside signings, a strategy that might not suit and satisfy Conte. They’ll have to insist on that even more this summer to plug the many holes in their squad. They won’t be able to fill them all with €30/40M additions, nor they should.

They have hired a touted but still green director, Giovanni Manna, who was an interesting choice but will have to prove his worth in his first window flying solo. A super demanding boss breathing down his neck with lofty requests, on top of a notoriously hands-on president, would add to the inherent difficulties.

A Painful Rebuild

Appointing Conte would raise expectations to a level Napoli might struggle to reach for considerable time. This terrible season has set them back tremendously. They’ll have to rebuild themselves from the ground up, likely without their best man. Considering Inter’s quality, that Milan wouldn’t be far behind with the right moves, and where they’ll end up in the standings, they are unlikely to sniff the Scudetto, or really the first two or three positions, for a while. The Juventus icon has lost some shine and a bit of his magic touch with his spell at Tottenham, but it’s hard to imagine he’d be happy with a multi-year plan to return to the top. He’d probably be okay with one, perhaps two campaigns, if they show remarkable improvements, then the murmurs about his unhappiness would begin simmering.

The Azzurri should be realistic about their current state and short-term perspectives and be the ones to target young coaches and up-and-coming coaches to open a new cycle, not the Rossoneri, and then bring in a few talents ready to bloom who could grow together along with the ones they already have. Instead, De Laurentiis has routinely preferred playing it safe with coaches, always appointing retreads and veterans. The last shot he took was Maurizio Sarri, who had managed only minnows until that point but wasn’t exactly a puppy.

The Tactical Reservations

Moreover, even if Conte went back to his roots and leaned on his first schemes, 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, and not on the 3-5-2 he perfected, which would require an exorbitant amount of adjustments and hurt some of their cornerstones, his style would be an odd fit for Napoli. They have been accustomed to proactive and aesthetically pleasing football for years. The former Italy boss’ tactics and posture aren’t necessarily defensive-minded when he has the right pieces but, even when everything is working, his brand is more overwhelmingly physical and brute force than technical, good looking and free-flowing.

Finally, after this campaign and what happened with Luciano Spalletti and Cristiano Giuntoli, who left town because they butted heads with De Laurentiis or just no longer wanted to deal with him, they need an even-keeled, calm, and collected presence on the bench. Instead, drama seems to follow the ex-Spurs gaffer whenever he goes. The clock about the collision course between two big and bruising personalities would quickly start ticking if things didn’t go as expected immediately.

Follow us on Google News for more updates on Serie A and Italian football

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *