Giovanni Simeone, Napoli’s necessary superb back-up upfront

Napoli’s Giovanni Simeone has been the important back-up frontman who could make the difference from the bench.

The Argentine forward, is likely to move permanently to Napoli. They are reportedly determined to cash him out when his loan period ends at the end of the 2022/23 season, rather than returning him to Hellas Verona. His form has been impressive so far despite only being the second-choice striker in Luciano Spalletti’s side. The son of Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone, he has netted eight goals in 21 matches, including four in the Champions League.

Giovanni’s move to the Partenopei this season is as a matter of fact quite unusual. After a fantastic loan spell in the 2021/22 season, he signed a permanent contract with Verona last summer. The former Genoa, Fiorentina and Cagliari man bagged 17 goals and provided six assists in 35 games under Igor Tudor’s tutelage. 

His great form attracted Napoli. They were in need of a top-rated back-up frontman to improve their form in the Champions League. The Naples-based club already sold Andrea Petagna to promoted side Monza. Petagna’s form was unsatisfactory since he only contributed nine goals and eight assists in 68 games.

Simeone seemingly has no objection to being the second or even third in the pecking order behind Victor Osimhen and Giacomo Raspadori. He would not miss out the opportunity to play in UEFA’s top flight competition. The 27-year-old striker proves to be an excellent backup, particularly in big games. He managed to score against Liverpool on UCL’s matchday one and two winning goals against Serie A’s reigning Champions, AC Milan on the road and versus AS Roma last January.

Giovanni Simeone has been Napoli’s secret weapon for goals

His unique transfer deal

Napoli’s plan to sign him permanently is actually quite beyond their own expectation. They did not prioritize it at first. The current Serie A league leaders and Verona agreed to a loan for €3.5 million. However, there is a € 12 million buyout clause if Giovanni’s form meets certain conditions.

The club must secure a Champions League spot, and he must score 20 goals in Serie A this season in order for the option to be exercised. Given the current circumstances, the first has been confirmed but not the second. Giovanni Simeone has only scored three goals in the Italian top flight despite not getting a nod in the team’s starting lineup. Thus, Napoli is yet obligated to buy.

Nevertheless, the Partenopei is keen on activating the option to buy as the Argentine forward performance is even better than the expected main back-up, Giacomo Raspadori. The former Sassuolo man has only contributed five goals and two assists in 23 games. Furthermore, Raspadori does not thrive as a number nine, whereas Giovanni can play both as a traditional striker and as a winger.

Simeone’s form in the National Team

Despite his remarkable form in the past two seasons, Giovanni Simeone has yet been given a chance to play in any major senior international tournaments. He has only earned five caps, scoring one goal in a friendly match against Guatemala back in September 2018. The last time he received a call-up was last year prior to World Cup 2022 for a preliminary squad. Unfortunately, he did not make the cut in the final 23-man squad.

The only major competitions he ever took part in were Olympic Games 2016 and World Cup U20 2015. The Buenos Aires-born frontman did play in all three games in both tournaments. Sadly, Argentina failed to go through to the knockout stage. He failed to notch up a single goal in Rio de Janeiro 2016, but did score one in New Zealand 2015 against Ghana U20 in the second game.

Giovanni Simeone is definitely hopeful that he could get another call-up from Lionel Scaloni in the future. With Lionel Messi’s doubtful future with La Albiceleste after winning the World Cup, he should have a chance to fight for one spot in the squad alongside Lautaro Martinez, Paulo Dybala, Angel and Joaquin Correa plus Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho as Julian Alvarez’s back-up for the next Copa America in 2024.

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