Every sport is the same in the sense that sheer talent alone won’t take you to the stars. Application, dedication, determination are arguably as vital, while in some cases physical prowess belongs in that list too.
With the English Premier League there seems to be an opinion that only the very best athletes and most imposing physical specimens have a chance of success. There’s a certain arrogance that surrounds it, holding the league up as some sort of purveyor of physical brilliance which cannot be tamed.
Perhaps on occasion this is a true reflection, but talent trumps physicality when blended with the correct attitude traits as previously noted; Eden Hazard, Alexis Sanchez and Sergio Aguero aren’t exactly domineering individuals.
Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne falls into a similar category, in that he is rather on the diminutive side at 5 ft 4. Of course he isn’t a Premier League player at the moment, but should his career continue along its current trajectory, there’s no reason why he won’t make the switch.
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An immensely talented attacker, Insigne started out earlier in his career occupying a more central role; popping up behind the striker and harnessing his creative freedom to both craft opportunities for others as well as himself.
His loan moves to Foggia and Pescara in Serie B in 2010 and 2011 played a huge role in his development, as he enjoyed the tutelage of Zdenek Zeman at both clubs, a coach who possesses a strong reputation with respect to nurturing forwards.
Insigne was a key player for both and ultimately helped the latter to promotion alongside the likes of Marco Verratti and Ciro Immobile. His ability on the ball, movement and creativity made him almost impossible to defend against, and he never had an issue transitioning to Serie A upon his return to Napoli.
Rafa Benitez’s tenure brought about some inconsistency and spells out of the starting XI, while some began to whisper about a failure to reach expectations.
But such thoughts have long been forgotten since Maurizio Sarri’s appointment. Insigne scored 13 times and assisted another 11 goals last season, as he became essential and crucial to Napoli’s attacking setup. Floating around the front – usually initially based on the left flank – he carved out a spot for himself again.
Things have been no different this term. Nine goals, eight assists; Insigne is certainly on track to get somewhere close to his record last season, while he continues to star as a gem in Napoli’s front line.
It’s no surprise, then, to see him linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs and at 25, the next five years should – in theory – be the best of his career. But the team reportedly eyeing him up the most is Arsenal.
— Nicolò Schira (@NicoSchira) February 20, 2017
Insigne would certainly fit in at the Gunners; his ability in possession and overall craft and talent make him almost the perfect blend between Sanchez and Santi Cazorla, and he wouldn’t need much adjusting to their style of play. Though one would argue Arsenal aren’t really in need of any more creative types.
The obvious potential pitfall of Insigne with relation to the Premier League is, of course, his physical presence – or lack thereof. But talentwise, there’s no question that he is good enough and his excellent resurgence after having to suffer Benitez highlights his application and character.
He might not be a certainty for success, but attitude problems haven’t been an issue with him and his natural ability would rank him among the best in the league. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is now flourishing and he should serve as encouragement to any club pursuing less physical players who possess such fine technical attributes.
The perfect blend of Sanchez and Cazorla, surely means that if Insigne were to move to Arsenal, he’d make his way into Alexis’ all-time XI, right?