Giacomo Raspadori must write his own legend
After a year as supporting cast, the Italian can lead a new era at Napoli
Giacomo Raspadori, one of Italy’s most talented native attackers, has mostly watched from the sidelines this season as his team-mates rampaged to an historic title.
Now those legends are moving on and Napoli need a new forward to lead their title defence. Tom Underhill tells Raspadori’s story, and asks whether he’s ready for what is to come.
The eleven players in blue on that rainy May evening in Udine will never be forgotten by the city of Naples. Their faces and names are now forever engraved on the city’s soul, next to that of Diego Maradona.
Eleven players specifically. Luciano Spalletti rarely tinkered or meddled with his winning Napoli machine as it rolled through opponent after opponent in the domestic league, cup and Europe. The fitness of the chosen eleven rarely waned and their appetite for winning went unsated, as if fueled by thoughts of the legacy that awaited them.
Alex Meret, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Amir Rrahmani, Kim Min-jae, Mario Rui, Stanislav Lobotka, André-Franck Zambo Anguissa, Piotr Zieliński, Hirving Lozano, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Victor Osimhen. Spalletti started this exact line-up 34 times out of a possible 38 in Serie A. These were the chosen eleven - the eleven that have their faces etched onto the bodies of cherubs in the streets of Naples and their portraits displayed on every corner.
But every great story has its supporting actors. And behind Napoli’s famous eleven were a host of players who deputised when thoughts of legacy momentarily dried up and tired legs remembered they were human. Among them was 23-year-old Giacomo Raspadori.
Though Napoli will celebrate their Scudetto triumph for weeks to come, it’s difficult to shake the sense of something ending. Spalletti is leaving the club and Rudi Garcia is arriving; vultures are circling over the prized heads of Kim, Kvaratskhelia and Osimhen. Spaletti’s eleven had its glorious moment, and Napoli must move on - perhaps towards a future in which Raspadori features as more than just a supporting act.
His signing in 2022 was a coup; he arrived for less than €30m when considered among Italy’s most talented and versatile young forwards. Now, with Napoli’s attack likely to be picked apart and a new coach arriving with new ideas, Raspadori has an opportunity to move into the limelight some feel he’s always deserved.
One story in Naples is ending and the city needs a new eleven to believe in. To understand where Raspadori fits into the next chapter, we must examine those he’s already written.
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