I should start with a disclaimer: I love, love, love, LOVE Marek Hamšík in that unabashed, unbound, truly impersonal way that one can love random sporting heroes. And so while Chelsea signing a 27-year-old, possibly overpriced, possibly affected by injury (the first major one of his career) to a greater extent than many expect, possibly never to rediscover his previously imperious form is a plan that could never backfire, it would probably not be the best idea. But I can dream, right?
Hamšík's been at Napoli since a month before his 20th birthday. Great things were predicted for him, and over the past seven seasons, great things - and many, many goals - have come to pass. A few years ago, he was part of the most fun attacking trident in all of Europe, one that made Napoli just about everybody's favorite second team. All that ended on a magical night in Stamford Bridge. Ezequiel Lavezzi was the first to leave, followed by Edinson Cavani last summer.
Now, dispatches from the Rafaluzione paint a picture that the midfielder may no longer be untouchable either. I love it when Google Translate gets all poetic on us:
"The untouchables. The soundtrack of existence as a prince is represented by a symphony of content that is manifested by a sequence of unquestionable prowess..."
-source: Corriere dello Sport via Google Translate
Rumors of discord between player and manager persist, not starting a crucial Europa League knockout second leg against FC Porto a sign of just how far confidence has fallen. Tabloids place his price in the realm of superstars: €35m, though I've seen harsher Italian sources claim that Napoli would be lucky to get half that considering the player's form and supposed general malaise.
After the rumors started up midweek, Napoli's manager moved quickly to refute, dissuade, and assure.
"Hamsik is important to me, [he] is vital to [Napoli]. There is no doubt about that. Has had an injury but played many games in which he arrived at his level. I am very happy with him and not because it is a discourse says 'want to sell', but we are very happy and I am the first to think that Marek is a key player. Nowadays [he] is not on the market and we do not consider any [offer] for Marek Hamsik."
-Rafa Benítez; source: Tutto Napoli via Google Translate (edited)
Arrrgh! Why must you keep destroying my dreams, Dream-destroyer?!