Lorenzo Insigne 22 Striker Napoli Italy
2013 has been…
Up and down, in a good and bad way. The little man with dynamite in his boots, he’s one of only a handful of players on this list who, at times, can genuinely take your breath away.
Take for instance the amazing free-kick against Dortmund in the Champions League game in September. The impudence to take that on from that angle with your right foot, knowing that there’s only one place you can put it to score, and then doing just that. Wonderful, another footballing gift to be YouTubed and GIF’d till the end of time.
We know the year hasn’t all been plain sailing and top-cornered free-kicks, second season syndrome has set in as defenders now know what to expect and plan according. Also goals are proving much harder to come by this time around with the grand total of zero recorded in Serie A at the time of writing. He drifted in, out and back into the starting line-up and over the summer was linked with a move away that was probably a play for a new contract in reality, but he ends the year in Rafa’s first team and with a goal against Dortmund (can he play them every week? Actually no, he really wouldn’t want to) in November that can hopefully kick start a little run.
For all the ups and downs there are still the moments where he does something genuinely special. When they come along all is forgiven, you remember this is still a very young player and dream about just how good he might be at his peak.
Obviously the goals have got to come before questions will be asked despite everything else he offers for both club and country. He was singled out for a specialist marking job by Arsene Wenger in Napoli’s Champions League clash with Arsenal and he remains high on many club’s wish lists. He’s happy at Napoli and committed despite the nonsense in the summer and a cheeky bid from Sunderland dismissed out of hand.
The next big step is education. He has the raw materials and the guile, he just needs the experience and maturity to make sure he’s putting them to the best possible use. It’s the moments of over elaboration and the over hit cross that remind you he still has a way to come but again, it’s easy to forget this is still a young player and under Rafa’s sure and steady tutelage we think he’ll continue to grow.
Internationally he now has a few caps and his first goal but he needs to rediscover his scoring touch to properly tie down that position in the World Cup squad for the summer. There are plenty of Italian strikers lined up to push for his place, if Stephan El Shaarawy can find his form again he will be chief among them, so the pressure’s on. We would love to see him in Brazil but he needs to raise that grade C to at least a C+ to remain in contention in a highly competitive field, but we’re backing him to do it. One of the IBWM’s favourites, we’ll keep watching this bookmarked GIF of that free-kick regardless.
“Stepped into the starting lineup as a replacement for Lavezzi and Napoli haven't missed the Argentinean as he added to his personal highlight reel on almost a weekly basis” – Adam Digby, ESPN
"With five goals and seven assists, Lorenzo Insigne was involved in a goal every 146 minutes last season. That was more frequently than Sebastian Giovinco and Goran Pandev." - Opta
C We know there are flaws in his game but we can’t help but watch him and think is this going to be one of those games where he does that one thing that makes us giggle with joy