Uncertainty clouds Napoli's European joy

Napoli's joy at qualifying for next season's Champions League has been clouded by uncertainty over whether they can keep the team together for next season.

The futures of coach Walter Mazzarri, who has transformed the team since replacing Roberto Donadoni in October 2009, and Serie A leading scorer Edinson Cavani will both be in the balance once the season ends.

"It's difficult to think of a Napoli without Cavani and Mazzarri; we would lose a player who has scored more than 100 goals and a coach who has turned us into challengers for the Scudetto," said forward Marek Hamsik.

"I hope Mazzarri and Cavani don't go, so that we can make this Napoli great," the Slovakian told reporters after Wednesday's 3-0 win at Bologna assured Napoli of a second-place finish behind champions Juventus.

"In the last three years, we have obtained great results and we want to continue like that."

Mazzarri, whose side host Siena on Sunday, declined to contemplate the future.

"I want to get as many points as possible and then I will talk to myself and decide what to do," he said.

"I want us to play well and win against Siena and AS Roma and give a chance to those who haven't played so often and have deserved more."

There can be no doubting the influence of Mazzarri, who enjoyed two good seasons at Sampdoria before moving south nearly four years ago.

He led Napoli to sixth place in his first season in charge, followed by a third place the next season which earned them their Champions League debut.

That itself proved impressive as they reached the last 16 at the expense of big-spending Manchester City.

Uruguay forward Cavani joined the squad at the start of the 2010/11 season and has scored 102 goals in 136 appearances in all competitions since then.

He has a 63-million-euro buyout clause in his contract and there is speculation that Manchester City and Real Madrid are among the clubs prepared to cough up.

Keeping the team together is a constant struggle for Napoli who lost forward Ezequiel Lavezzi before the start of the season when he joined Paris Saint-Germain.

Only the top two teams in Serie A qualify for the Champions League group stage with the third-placed side having to go into the final qualifying round.

AC Milan will clinch third spot if they beat AS Roma at home on Sunday or if Fiorentina, four points behind in fourth, lose at home to relegation-threatened Palermo.

With two games each to play, Palermo, 18th in the 20-team table with 32 points, will be relegated if they lose that match, or if both Genoa and Torino, the only teams they can catch, win.

Genoa, who are 17th and host Inter Milan, have 36 points and Torino, who visit Chievo, are one place and one point above them.

Siena, who are 19th with 30 points, are virtually certain to follow Pescara into Serie B next season.


SHARES
comments