“Tu resti qua,” Luciano Spalletti was seen saying to Andrea Petagna after the forward scored Napoli‘s 84th-minute winner at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Serie A on Sunday. ‘’You are staying here,’’ said the Tuscan to the striker as he became a hero that I Partenopei now want to keep.
Napoli came out of a hard-fought victory at Marassi, winning 2-1 despite missing important players like Piotr Zielinski, Victor Osimhen, and Dries Mertens.
As of the weekend, all signs were pointing towards a Petagna departure from the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. According to Tuttosport, the 26-year-old was likely set for a loan to Sampdoria as they need a replacement for the injured Manolo Gabbiadini. Part of the deal would also be the signing of midfielder Morten Thorsby.
Petagna putting up a fight
Now, though, Petagna staying is something that Spalletti clearly wants. The striker showed passion, confidence, responsibility and, most of all, brought three points back to the south.
“I couldn’t wait to get on that pitch,’’ Petagna said after the game. “I had some difficulties over the last month and a small injury, but I felt better and knew I’d score.
“The truth is, I didn’t even expect to be here tonight, a lot of things happened this week. I wanted to prove what I’m worth.
“The coach trusts me and said so again this week, my teammates also thought I would score this evening. With my physicality, it takes me a while to really get going and show what I can do.”
Petagna has often been criticised for not looking like the modern-day striker and for his fitness. Though his numbers are far from being reprehensible. In nine Serie A starts he scored four goals and provided three assists. Most of which came at crucial times, very much similar to what happened on Sunday night at the Luigi Ferraris.
Not for the first time
In late October of last season, at Benevento, as the score was tied 1-1, Petagna came as a substitute. He smartly dropped away from the defense, making himself an option for Matteo Politano to cut back. Petagna completed his one-two with the winger by sending a first-time finish towards the net and won the game for Napoli.
A couple of months later, he started on the bench but still made his mark. Having come on at half time, Petagna struck not long later. Stepping away discretely, unmarked, he was found by a Hirving Lozano cross and headed home from the penalty spot, again securing three points.
With the quiet transfer window Napoli have had and the risk of losing players to injuries and suspension, it is looking like keeping Petagna is something I Partenopei will now do. And they could do a lot worse than the former SPAL forward.