Marek Hamšík and his importance for star-studded Napoli

Napoli have solidified their position as one of Italian football’s most complete and dangerous sides this season, with the San Paolo outfit consistently towards the pinnacle of Serie A over the last number of years.

This season stars such as Gonzalo Higuaín and José Callejón have been added to Rafa Benítez’s attacking arsenal, replacing outgoing top-drawer players like Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

However, with the business end of European and domestic campaigns upon us, Napoli have received a giant boost that is as good as a new signing for a side hungry for silverware this term.

Marek Hamšík has been one of the club’s most consistent and impressive players for a number of seasons, but has struggled this term due to debilitating injuries.

The Slovakia international had a relatively slow start to the campaign by the lofty standards that he has set for himself over the years, and also missed eight Napoli games due to an ankle injury last year.

However, the 26-year-old was back to somewhere near his best over the weekend, providing both assists in his side’s important 2-0 win over Sassuolo.

Although the likes of Cavani and Lavezzi have stood out for Napoli in recent years, the eastern European attacker should be given just as much credit for the club’s rise to prominence.

Alongside the South American pair Napoli had an enviable attacking trident, with Hamšík an essential part of the team.

Last season he bagged 13 goals from his attacking midfield position, but it was his ability to create for others that stood out. Although the likes of Cavani has gained acclaim due to his goalscoring return, this would not be possible without Hamšík, who laid on 22 assists last term alone.

Marek HamšíkWith Higuaín now the main man in the number nine role, having Hamšík starting to get back to his best will make Benítez’s side all the more dangerous for the remainder of the campaign.

Although effectively out of the running to win the Scudetto with Juventus 13 points clear of Napoli, the San Paolo outfit will have other objectives firmly in their sights.

After a frustrating elimination from the Champions League, despite amassing twelve points and four wins from six games, Napoli now take their place in the Europa League.

With Swansea City to play in the next round, the Italians will be one of the favourites to lift the European crown this term.

Benítez’s charges have also got the Coppa Italia final to look forward to in May, with Fiorentina the opponents. Napoli have been mightily impressive in the cup competition this term, knocking Udinese, Roma and Lazio out of the running on route to the final.

Having someone as able as Hamsik firing on all cylinders once more will be a key asset for a side that got a taste of glory with Coppa Italia success in 2011-12.

Hamšík has been with the club since signing from Brescia back in 2007, and as such is one of the longest serving players at the club and is the team’s captain.

Despite Cavani and Lavezzi commanding blockbuster transfer fees to move to Paris Saint-Germain, Hamšík is every bit as able as his former team-mates and can be a key man for Napoli for the rest of the season.

Slightly forgotten this season due to a dip in form and unavailability, it appears that one of Serie A’s brightest lights is starting to illuminate the Stadio San Paolo once more.

I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo,, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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