Why has Marek Hamsik struggled for Napoli under Rafa Benitez?



Marek Hamsik is the remaining piece of Napoli’s ‘Three Tenors’ – which included now-Paris St Germain stars Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi. After Rafa Benitez took over in 2013, it was believed that the Naples based outfit would finally compete with Juventus for the Serie A title.

However, the situation has been just as contrary.  The Partneopei finished third last season and are already 9 points off Juventus this season and by the looks of it, they have blown their chances of securing the Scudetto thanks to a poor start to the season.

Hamsik, considered as the darling of the Partenopei has struggled over the past couple of seasons and the reasons seem obvious. Under Walter Mazzarri, Napoli played attacking football in a 3-5-2 setup with Hamsik behind deployed up front, playing just off Edinson Cavani. The 27 year old thrives playing as a central attacking midfielder or a support striker. In the 2012-13 season, Hamsik scored 11 goals in 4 appearances averaging 0.25 goals per game.

Under Benitez, Hamsik has featured in the number ten role in a 4-2-3-1 setup and for obvious reasons he has struggled. The midfielder is not a kind of player who manipulates space well like most number tens and as a result his assists too has dried up.

Moreover, with Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne playing beside him, making up the attacking triumvirate, he has been closely marked by opposition defenders. Thus he managed only 7 goals last season in 41 appearances.

Moreover, he has a tendency to do a bit too much rather than getting the basics correct. Hamsik gives the ball far more often and slows down the attacking play with his lack of vision, something which was contrary under Mazzarri. Benitez had said last season that the Slovak is as good as Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard but the Spanish tactician would surely mince his words now.

So how can Benitez get the best out of Hamsik? One way in which Hamsik can definitely improve is if Benitez tinkers with his formation. The Spaniard is stubborn with his formation, hardly changing his 4-2-3-1 setup.

However, he needs to move to a more attacking 4-3-3 and play Hamsik on the inside right. Steven Gerrard too had his most productive season at Liverpool when Benitez asked him to play as an inside right winger and the same applies to Hamsik as well.

With Callejon and another winger on either side, he will easily find space to run at and this is where he can aid his team’s build up play. It will also help the Napoli captain making late runs into the box and with his lethal right foot, it will help him pick up loose balls on the end of the box and shot from distance.

It’s the goals that Hamsik is lacking and who knows if he scores a few in the upcoming matches, it will do him a world of good.

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