Lorenzo Insigne: Following in the footsteps of Lavezzi


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As Napoli continue their pursuit of a first Serie A title since 1990, we look at the role  diminutive youngster Lorenzo Insigne is playing in their rise to the higher reaches of the Italian league.

Name: Lorenzo Insigne
Date of birth: 4 June 1991
Place of birth: Naples
Nationality: Italian
Height: 1.63m
Position: Striker
Current club: Napoli
Caps: 1
Former clubs: Cavese (loan) Foggia (loan) Pescara (loan)

"He is doing very well and is absorbing the pressure," commented Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri earlier this year. "He is a serious and mature lad who has understood that he must play for the team and not care about what anyone says. Some didn't realise that there is a big difference from Serie B, which is why I say Insigne is doing much better than expected."

Insigne, 21, has enhanced his personal stock having spent loan spells with Cavese, Foggia and Pescara, a club who won Serie B with Insigne in their midst. Inter Milan apparently rejected the chance to sign Insigne after a trial spell as a schoolkid due to concerns over his slight build. Napoli had no such concerns in signing the 15-year-old Insigne for a fee of under 2,000 euros, and are benefiting from showing such faith.

Insigne is not the biggest forward, but his pace and technique makes up for his lack of height. He is right-footed, but can operate equally as well on the left side of the pitch as he proved during his loan period with Pescara.

Improving his skills playing under the now Roma coach Zdenek Zeman at Foggia, Insigne scored 19 goals in 33 games before then scoring 18 in 37 games for Pescara, again under Zeman. Since returning to Napoli, he earned a place in Cesare Prandelli's Italy squad for their World Cup qualifying matches with Bulgaria and Malta. Having won eight caps for Italy's U-21 side, he was handed his first full cap in the 2-0 win against Malta in September.

One of the criticisms of former Napoli forward Ezequiel Lavezzi before his transfer to Paris Saint-German was a lack of goals, but there are signs that Insigne may be able to provide more of a finished product as he develops. He has netted three times in 16 outings for Napoli this season amid three assists and 37 shots at the opposition goal.

"Short in size, high in skill, he has the profile of a fantasista. Standing at 5ft 3in, Insigne is 2cm shorter than Maradona, 3cm shorter than another Napoli hero Gianfranco Zola, and 6cm shorter than Lionel Messi, or his 'twin', as some fans would have it," wrote Eurosport's Serie A blogger James Horncastle in recent weeks.

"But Insigne has another idol and in this case he couldn't have picked more wisely. On his bedroom wall in Frattamaggiore hung a poster of Alessandro Del Piero. 'I look up to him,' Insigne said. 'As a kid, I watched all of his goals and I'd love to 'steal' his curling shots.'"

Insigne began brightly against Inter at the San Siro on Sunday, a match that Napoli would lose 2-1. He showed some great awareness to link with Edinson Cavani early in the first half.

He was the beneficiary of an assist from Uruguayan, but his effort flew just wide with 18 minutes gone. He turned provider with an inch-perfect cross that his strike partner contrived to put wide.

His influence waned as the game progressed with a poor corner that left the field of play before coming back in probably the best illustration of inconsistent moments. But he almost laid on the equaliser in the dying minutes with a great set-piece to the far post, but Maggio headed it straight at Handanovic.

Insigne remains a work in progress, but he appears to be developing nicely in Naples.

Player ratings

Pace: 8

Awareness: 9

Dribbling: 8

Delivery: 7

Shooting: 8

Analysis of Lorenzo Insigne's performance in Napoli's 2-1 Serie A defeat to Internazionale in Serie A on Sunday, December 9 at the San Siro.

18' - Cavani leads a break from midfield, skips past auxiliary centre-back Cambiasso and feeds Insigne, who cuts inside from the right channel, skips past a couple of flailing Inter legs before curling the ball just wide of the post from outside the box.

26' - Great movement from Cavani to get a yard of space at the back post. Insigne does incredibly well to pick him out but he heads wide. Great movement but a bad miss for a man of his calibre.

44' - Insigne with a wonderfully instinctive volley but the effort is just the wrong side of the post.

80' - Britos wins a corner Ranocchia. Palacio rises highest to head a Hamsik corner clear. The resulting corner from Insigne goes out of play before coming back in and the referee blows.

87' - Free-kick from 30 yards out following a late challenge. Insigne plays the free-kick short before lifting it to Maggio but he heads straight at Handanovic — that was the chance.

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