With Gonzalo Higuain joining rivals Juventus for an eye-watering £79 million, Napoli face the difficult task of bringing in players to try and challenge for the title this season. The market is going to be difficult for them now, as selling clubs know that Napoli have a huge amount of money available in their reserves. This will inflate the fees for their own targets, as can be seen the De Telegraaf’s report that Arek Milik is closing in on a €35 million move to Naples.
Ajax had wanted to keep the striker, but Napoli have made an offer that was too good to refuse for a player they bought just 12 months ago for €2.85 million. The Amsterdam club have a great record of selling players on for big fees, with Luis Suarez, Wesley Sneijder and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar notable examples.
The huge profit made on Milik after a year shows that Ajax did great business just a 12 months ago, ago and it will allow them to make moves of their own in the coming weeks. The Dutch league is not flushed with money and with one or two quality additions, Ajax could regain the Eredivisie title from PSV Eindhoven.
For Napoli, they needed to move quickly to replace Higuain; who scored a record 36 league goals last season, and they will be hoping Milik can help take some of the burden. They may still yet move for another forward to help the Polish international, as he is almost certainly not going to score as many as Higuain has for Napoli over the last few years.
At the European Championships, it was clear that Milik was still raw and he was wasteful in front of goal. For Ajax, finishing was one of his strong attributes, but he struggled to adapt to having less time in the final third at the Euros.
During his two seasons at Ajax; the first of which was as a loanee, Milik scored 32 league goals, a very good return considering his minutes on the pitch. He averaged a goal every 116.9 minutes and contributed 11 assists across the two seasons as well.
The move to the Netherlands certainly helped his game to progress and the improvements were evident at the Euros. He was influencing matches for Poland and arguably outshone Robert Lewandowski, especially in terms of movement and linking up play.
The 22-year-old likes to drop deep and get on the ball, which is why Napoli may look to bring in another forward to fill the role on the shoulder of the last defender. He played a withdrawn role with Poland, allowing Lewandowski to lead the line and this could be where his long term future is. In those deeper areas, he excels, as he is very good at playing through balls, while he is a threat when he shoots from range.
As would be expected, Milik’s passing game developed a great deal at Ajax, with the Dutch club famous for playing an entertaining brand of football. He will bring that to Napoli and the Italians could be an exciting outfit to watch this season.
Issues remain with Milik and there have been a lot of regular watchers of the Eredivisie shocked by the fee. The Polish striker is talented and is likely to continue growing over the next few years, but he was only the third best striker in the league last season. Both Vincent Janssen and Luuk de Jong were better in terms of goals and their all-around games.
If this deal is completed, he will become the most expensive player in the history of the Eredivisie, overtaking the fee paid by Manchester United for Memphis Depay.
There is no doubting that Milik is an excellent prospect and his performances at the European Championships highlighted that. He was not playing at the top of his game in France, but he was influencing games and a major threat throughout the tournament. A move to a bigger league was required for him to continue developing at a quick rate, as he had already emerged as one of the best players in the Eredivisie.
The fee is too high for what he has achieved, but the explanation for that could be that Napoli wanted the deal done quickly, in order to get him bedded into the squad before the season begins. It is likely that Milik was always on their list of targets for the summer and the departure of Higuain simply accelerated the deal. He alone cannot replace the goals that Higuain brought to the team, but he will certainly help.
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