Marek Hamsik

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Hamsik admits he is struggling to adapt in Chinese league

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Former Napoli midfielder Marek Hamsik, who moved this winter to Chinese club Dalian Yifang, has told Chinese media that he is struggling to adapt to the new league with teammates who don’t speak a familiar language.

The 31-year-old has made six appearances for Dalian Yifang since joining – all starts – but was dropped out of the squad completely for a 4-1 loss at leaders Beijing Guoan on Sunday. Hamsik admitted that he is in uncharted territory for himself at the new club.

“I am not particularly satisfied with my performances,” the Slovakian international midfielder told Chinese channel China Central Television, as quoted by global news agency AFP. “I have always tried my best to help the team but I’ve not encountered a situation like this before. There are big differences between Chinese and European football, but I will try to overcome this and adapt.”

Hamsik does not have a goal or assist yet in 513 minutes of Chinese Super League play, and he believes it comes down to familiarity. “Many times I want to communicate with my teammates, for example on pitch, but because of the language I can’t, so I can only use gestures,” Hamsik said.

The struggles may not just be down to his new club, however. Hamsik was a bit-part player for Napoli this season before moving on, and in 13 Serie A appearances totaling 922 minutes, he did not register a goal or assist either.

Still, the Slovakian international is not the only one from overseas struggling at Dalian Yifang. His current teammate Yannick Carrasco, who started Super League play with a bang registering three goals in the season’s first two matches, is also said to be wanting out. The Belgian told domestic outlet HLN back in late March, “I would like to return to Europe,” saying that he looked for a way out in the winter but couldn’t make it work.

Carrasco cited the struct rules in China as part of the reason for his uncomfortable state, referring back to a training ground fight last fall that resulted in the Chinese government temporarily revoking his passport, which caused him to miss a pair of international matches. The 25-year-old was benched in the loss at Beijing Guoan on Sunday, left as an unused substitute marking the first match he has missed this season.

Hamsik calls time on legendary Napoli career, off to China

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Marek Hamsik has left Napoli for a big money deal with Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang.

Hamsik, 31, apologized to fans of the Neapolitan club and praised them for their support over 520 matches, which included 121 goals, 111 assists, two Italian Cups and one Italian Super Cup.

[ MORE: Icardi stripped of captaincy ]

He joins ex-Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco and former Benfica star Nicolas Gaitan on DL Yifang.

Still, the veteran is emotional about leaving Italy.

“Napoli. I got it tattooed on my skin, just like the first victory in the Italian Cup after 25 years. It’s impossible to forget that party. It’s impossible to forget the moment when I broke Bruscolotti’s record or when I beat Maradona’s goal record.”

Hamsek has 110 caps for Slovakia and definitely had more top-end time with him on the European stage, but felt the need for a rich new adventure. Napoli’s administration has made it clear there will always be a home for him, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he returned sooner rather than later.

 

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Napoli nel cuore 💙 Per prima cosa mi devo scusare con voi tifosi azzurri: volevo, speravo, sognavo di salutarvi con un grande giro di campo abbracciato dal vostro applauso. Mi avete sempre sostenuto e amato incondizionatamente nei momenti belli o difficili: di questo ve ne sarò sempre grato. “Napoli” ce l’ho tatuato sulla pelle: così come la prima vittoria in Coppa Italia dopo 25 anni. Impossibile dimenticare quella festa 💙 impossibile dimenticare il momento in cui ho battuto il record di presenze di Bruscolotti o quando ho superato il record di gol in maglia azzurra del DIO del calcio Diego Armando Maradona. Questo mi rende estremamente orgoglioso. Qui a Napoli sono nati i miei 3 figli, napoletani a tutti gli effetti ☺ Desidero ringraziare tutti: il Presidente che mi ha dato la possibilità di rimanere qui per 12 anni e che ha accettato la mia volontà di provare una nuova esperienza; tutti gli allenatori che mi hanno allenato, ai quali devo la mia crescita come calciatore e come uomo; tutto lo staff medico, tecnico e la Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli tutta; i miei amici, dei quali sentirò la mancanza, ma che so non mi abbandoneranno mai perché sono parte della mia famiglia. Appena sarà possibile spero mi concederete un ultimo giro di campo al San Paolo, per dedicarvi e ricevere il saluto che meritiamo. Vi amo e amerò questa città per sempre. GRAZIE DI CUORE a tutti 💙 e un grandissimo in bocca al lupo ai miei compagni per il resto della stagione: spero riuscirete a vincere l’Europa League! #sempreforzanapoli💙

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Serie A: Inter’s unbeaten start ends; Hamsik equals Maradona

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan’s unbeaten start to the season was brought to an unlikely end Saturday as the Nerazzurri were defeated 3-1 at home by Udinese and went on to lose top spot in Serie A.

Inter captain Mauro Icardi had canceled out Kevin Lasagna’s opener but Udinese put in an impressive second-half performance and took the lead through Rodrigo De Paul’s penalty before Antonin Barak sealed the result.

Napoli moved two points above Inter and back into the lead after winning 3-1 at Torino, with Marek Hamsik matching Diego Maradona’s scoring record.

“We’re obviously disappointed to have lost,” Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said. “Maybe it hurts a bit more because it’s been a bit of time since our last defeat and we’re not used to it anymore.

“It’s nothing to do with tiredness. The players seemed physically fine to me even in the second half when we made a lot of mistakes. The difference was we played the ball badly in the second half and made a lot of silly mistakes.”

Udinese moved 10 points clear of the relegation zone as its revival under new coach Massimo Oddo continued. Oddo has won three league matches after losing to Napoli in his opening game.

“What has changed since my arrival? No one has a magic wand. We do our work but then it’s the lads who go out onto the pitch,” Oddo said. “There’s still a lot of work to do but we are taking giant steps.

“This team never gives up and always gives everything … I think that winning at San Siro against Inter, which was first and unbeaten, is more due to how good my team was and not that Inter played badly.”

Udinese took the lead in the 14th minute when Silvan Widmer cut inside from the right, dribbled in the area and rolled the ball across for Lasagna to tap in.

However, Inter was back on level terms within a minute as Icardi volleyed home Antonio Candreva’s cross.

Inter dominated the rest of the first half and came close to taking the lead on several occasions but Oddo turned things around at the break, and it was Udinese which was stronger in the second period.

The visitors almost took the lead immediately after the restart but Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic somehow managed to deflect Lasagna’s effort over the bar from point-blank range.

Icardi also came close to doubling his tally but he headed a corner over the bar.

Minutes later Udinese was awarded a penalty for handball – after video review showed the ball had not crossed the line before Widmer’s cross was handled by Davide Santon.

De Paul sent his spot-kick straight down the middle to give Udinese the lead in the 61st.

Milan Skriniar almost leveled shortly after but his header came off the bar.

Udinese wrapped up all three points 13 minutes from time when Barak finished off a brilliant counterattack by heading in Jakub Jankto’s cross.

Marek Hamsik matched Diego Maradona’s all-time record of 115 goals for Napoli.

Hamsik reached that tally after 30 minutes on Saturday, scoring the third goal in Napoli’s 3-1 win at Torino.

Dries Mertens controlled the ball in the area and picked out Hamsik, who volleyed into to top right corner.

It has taken the Slovenia midfielder 11 seasons and 477 appearances to reach that tally, while Maradona, who was a forward, set that mark in 259 games in seven seasons with Napoli.

Kalidou Koulibaly had headed Napoli into the lead in the fourth minute and Piotr Zielinski doubled the visitors’ tally in the 25th.

Andrea Belotti netted a consolation for Torino shortly after the hour mark.

Federico Fazio scored a stoppage-time goal to help fourth-place Roma beat Cagliari 1-0 and remain four points behind Napoli.

The Argentine knew little about the goal, however, as Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno attempted to punch clear a free kick and it ricocheted off Fazio’s stomach and into the back of the net.

Cragno had earlier saved Diego Perotti’s weak penalty after the goalkeeper had fouled Edin Dzeko.

Video review was used on both incidents.

UCL: Real Madrid survives early scare thanks to Ramos

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  • Napoli scores early
  • Ronaldo, Mertens hit posts
  • Ramos puts it to bed
  • Morata adds stoppage time goal

Sergio Ramos scored a pair of second half headers to help overcome Napoli’s early comeback effort and lead reigning champions Real Madrid into the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday at the Stadio San Paolo.

Dries Mertens had given Napoli a 1-0 lead to bring the Serie A side to within a goal of advancing, but Ramos’ double restored order as Real won the leg 3-1 and the tie 6-2.

Alvaro Morata scored the third Real Madrid goal.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

Mertens’ terrific run was met in class by Marek Hamsik’s deft pass, and Napoli had edged to within one on aggregate.

Cristiano Ronaldo almost had an immediate answer for the visitors, but he slammed a shot off the post.

Mertens hit a post himself before the end of the half.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

[ MORE: Europa League schedule ]

Ramos then did what he tends to do in seemingly every big game, coming up from the back to bury a goal. The soon-to-be 31-year-old headed Toni Kroos’ cross home to make it 4-2 on aggregate in the 51st minute.

Ramos added another with a header off a corner six minutes later to put it away.

Napoli beats Inter 3-0 in Serie A after lightning start

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NAPLES, Italy (AP) Napoli eased to a 3-0 win over Inter Milan in Serie A on Friday, with two goals in the opening five minutes.

[ MORE: Top 5 PL storylines heading into weekend ]

The home side got off to a lightning start as, following a wonderful team move, Jose Callejon headed back Marek Hamsik’s chipped pass for Piotr Zielinski to volley into the bottom left corner.

[ MORE: Ronaldo, Mourinho involved in massive tax evasion system ]

Zielinski turned provider moments later as Hamsik beat the offside trap to run onto his pass and fire into the bottom right corner.

It was Hamsik’s 104th goal for Napoli, moving him level with Edinson Cavani in third in the clubs’ goalscoring charts. The Slovakia forward needs 11 more to equal Diego Maradona’s record.

Inter started the second half aggressively but hopes of getting back into the match were scuppered six minutes after the restart when Lorenzo Insigne netted his fourth goal in three league matches after visiting goalkeeper Samir Handanovic only flapped at a corner.

Napoli moved level on points with Atalanta, which visits league leader Juventus on Saturday, and fourth-placed Lazio, which hosts Roma in the capital derby on Sunday.

Inter, which beat Fiorentina 4-2 on Monday for its first win under coach Stefano Pioli, remained eighth ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.