With 11 goals from midfield for Napoli this season, Marek Hamsik would be a quality addition for Manchester City...
Napoli's Marek Hamsik is attracting plenty of speculation surrounding a Premier League move this summer, with Manchester City said to be in pole position, and while he is still just 23 and with bags of talent, signing him will prove tough for the rich and powerful elite.
The Slovakian international has come an almighty way since his €5.5 million move from Brescia to the Azzurri in 2007, going from strength to strength, and ultimately leading to his best-ever season in 2010/11 after helping Walter Mazzarri's men gain qualification for the Champions League.
An increasingly high status comes with all the talk of a departure from Napoli with clubs in England coming to the fore. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City could be interested depending on what paper you read, but the fact remains he is a special player who needs little introduction.
Who does he play like?
Think Chelsea and England midfielder, or one who has just retired. If Hamsik comes to the Premier League he would play in a Frank Lampard-type role, or similarly, he would resemble the Paul Scholes of the past. An all-rounder who can get into the box and onto things coming his way to finish. He has a great shot and his passing is first rate.
In Serie A he plays like Palermo's Javier Pastore - also linked with Chelsea and several other big clubs around Europe. The role is similar, the job specification identical. Hamsik loves to get onto the ball to caress it with graceful touch before dictating the play. As good as Pastore, the Napoli man is a magnet for any top side.
What is his current form like?
Started from the bench just once this season in 38 Serie A matches - a testament to the richness of stealth and stamina across a campaign which included fine form in the league, Coppa Italia, Europa League and Euro 2012 qualifiers.
Hamsik picked himself and delivered every time right up to Slovakia's 1-0 win over Andorra in qualifying Group B. He also scored 11 goals in Serie A - a mega achievement after Edinson Cavani scored 26 up front.
Manchester City meanwhile are linked with everyone these days. However, Roberto Mancini knows about Italian football and he is no stranger to big money transfers
Which club would he suit?
Of the major English elite in United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City, the funky-haired maestro could fit in any of them by briging his own unique style, haircut aside. If you are Man United then you need someone like him in the team, though Sir Alex Ferguson's men have an eye on Inter's Wesley Sneijder who, compared to Hamsik, is well ahead on the experience chart.
At Arsenal, he could be an ideal replacement for Cesc Fabregas if he is sold to Barcelona. The potential is there to penetrate on merit alone. Hamsik would come in and have no issue in doing the Spaniard's job for Arsene Wenger. He fits the Fabregas role. His play is based on quick movement, rapid passing. The playmaker is fast and drifts behind the forward to provide ammunition. His passing is not as great as Cesc's, but it's good. The Gunners would be a decent move for him.
As for Chelsea, they are in the process of rebuilding following the departure of Carlo Ancelotti, and thus a move there would depend on who comes in as manager. Manchester City meanwhile are linked with everyone these days. However, Roberto Mancini knows about Italian football and he is no stranger to big money transfers involving the Italy market following the transfers of Mario Balotelli and Aleksandar Kolarov who were textbook acquisitions last year.
How likely is a transfer, and could he handle the Premier League?
Of course we cannot judge Hamsik or make assumptions on whether he would survive the cut and thrust of England's top-flight until he has a hack at it. As things stand a move is seemingly difficult as Napoli are in no mood to sell. Their president Aurelio De Laurentiis has hung the not for sale sign and recently said his club "is not a supermarket", and insisted there is "no price" for Hamsik, so it appears like an olympic task which could force clubs to fall at the first hurdle.
Talk has been heightened with evaluations upwards of €30 million, though in reality it is hard to see a move come off unless those suggestions are lowered drastically. Clubs are unlikely to pay anything over €20 m for him, and for simple reasons. The experience is not there. He has never played in the Champions League and has not won anything, and so there is little proof of his quality at the highest levels.
Anything more than that figure is expensive for a player who doesn't tick all the boxes, though in comparisons with many others, he would justify a heavy price tag even though it's hard to see clubs willing to stretch bids in an era when big transfers are being watched by Uefa and financial fair play tendencies.
Also preventing a move to England is the market itself. There are other players such as Pastore and Sneijder, leaving clubs to gamble whether rushing with bids for Hamsik will lead to boom, bust or something in between Italian taste and English nobility. Hamsik's Serie A journey has just started at Napoli, but reaching the Premier League atlantis is a stretch for this year.
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