This afternoon it was confirmed that Italian side Napoli have completed a double swoop for Gonzalo Higuaín and Pepe Reina.
Club President Aurelio De Laurentiis sent out the message to fans, after Higuaín and Reina passed medicals.
Both players will get their first taste of Italian soccer, with former Liverpool, Chelsea and Inter Milan manager Rafael Benitez taking the reins of the Southern Italian side from this season.
De Laurentiis had this to say.
“Higuain and Reina have passed their medicals and will soon join the rest of the group,” he tweeted. “On Monday there will be a big party at the San Paolo. You will be able to get to know the new players and the new shirts.”
Grabbing Argentinian striker Higuaín from under the noses of Arsenal is a major coup for Benitez, as the prolific striker will help ease the blow of losing Edinson Cavani to Paris Saint-Germain for $88 million. The fee for the 25-year-old Real Madrid striker is thought to be $51 million, and Higuaín will be an instant fans favorite at the Stadio San Paolo.
Pretty good work from De Laurentiis, as he gets one of the world’s best goal poachers to replace Cavani and gains $30 million on the deal.
While Pepe Reina will be re-united with his former boss Benitez on a season-long loan deal, as he looks to kick-start his career away from Anfield in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup. He should be the new No.1 for Napoli this season.
The big question is, do these two signings make Napoli contenders on Europe’s biggest stage?
After a second place finished in Serie A during the 2012-13 season, Napoli will compete in the Champions League for the second-time in three year this upcoming season. Can Benitez work his magic on the European stage? Looks like he will give it a good go.
And after winning the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool in 2005 and the Europa League with both Valencia (2001) and Chelsea last season, Benitez has an incredible record in European competitions.
With Higuaín, Reina, Raul Albiol and José Callejón all arriving alongside Benitez, a new look side could bring success to the sleeping Italian giants.
They haven’t won the Scudetto since 1989-90 but last season was their best league finish since and Benitez’ rigid defensive play, coupled with their attack-minded individuals, could spell success for the pride of Naples. Marek Hamsik and Goran Pandev are special talents going forward and with Gokhan Inler often wins the midfield battles, so Hamsik, Pandev and Higuaín will get plenty of chances to create and score.
Good times could be just round the corner for Benitez and his new charges at Napoli. Both domestically and in Europe.