Lorenzo Insigne firing his way to the top with Napoli
After a free-flowing, incisive counter attack, Napoli captain Marek Hamsik played in Lorenzo Insigne who curled in a lovely first time finish within the far post. Insigne had given his boyhood club the lead in the Coppa Italia final.
Born and raised in Naples, 22-year-old Insigne is one of Italy’s brightest young talents. He was part of the Italy U21 team that finished runners-up to Spain in the 2013 UEFA European U21 Championship. He scored the solitary goal to beat England during that tournament with a superb free kick.
The attacker had already tasted experience with the Italian senior side back in 2012 under Cesare Prandelli, a 2-0 victory over Malta in a World Cup qualifier.
Insigne really announced himself to Italian football when he was on loan at Pescara in the 2011-12 season under the tutelage of Zdenek Zeman. The diminutive attacker scored 18 goals that season and was part of the trio of Ciro Immobile and Marco Verratti that clinched promotion to Serie A.
He was back at Napoli for the 2012-13 season and was seen to replace Ezequiel Lavezzi who had departed for the allure of Paris Saint-Germain.
People may have been disappointed by Insigne’s campaign that saw him score just five goals in Serie A, but it was one of learning and maturing into a more complete player.
This season saw complete change in Naples. Edinson Cavani had left, also for PSG, Rafael Benitez was their new coach who oversaw several new signings and tactical transformation at the San Paolo.
For one so young and still learning, Insigne could have halted this season and fail to develop with added competition in his position. Instead the fiery, passionate Neapolitan asserted himself amongst the high profile sigings of Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon.
Despite only registering two goals currently in Serie A this season, Insigne has started 23 matches so far this campaign compared to 16 in the total of last season and has nine assists compared to seven last term, with two matches still to play. He has continued to develop and progress even with huge change at the club.
He is technical on the ball with agility and flair to burst past players and open up defences. Whether running from a deep position out wide or floating within the centre of the pitch just behind the striker, Insigne’s movement is a nightmare for defenders.
The one issue, as stated above, is his goals return. Should that improve, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t, then he really would resemble a complete wide-forward who will be a danger to any opposition defence.
An Italy World Cup berth is not out of reach. But should he not make it to Brazil this summer, he will surely be part of Prandelli’s thinking going into the 2016 European qualifiers.
At club level, Insigne is right at home with Napoli and is on course to becoming an excellent player. Six minutes after opening the scoring in Rome on Saturday night, Insigne fired in his second to help send his hometown team onto a 3-1 victory over Fiorentina to win the Coppa Italia. He was Napoli’s only Italian to play in the final.
“[Winning the Coppa Italia] is the greatest joy of my career,” Insigne told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
A proud moment for the man from Naples, which may just be the start of many celebratory moments as Lorenzo Insigne and Napoli aim for more silverware in the near future.
Follow Tom Rowland on Twitter @TWRowland