Back in June, Napoli president Aurelio Di Laurentiis laughed heartily at reports that Arsenal were lining up a €20 million bid for Lorenzo Insigne.
The exact reason for his chortling? “Lorenzo’s value is closer to €60 or €70 million,” he said, giving a clear hands-off warning to the North London club.
But Insigne has endured a rough time at the San Paolo since. The 23-year-old has been jeered off the pitch multiple times by his hometown fans already this season for lacklustre performances.
During the first five games of the Serie A campaign, the diminutive forward failed to have a hand in a goal as Napoli looked rudderless in their second term under Rafa Benitez.
Insigne’s wife went so far as to remark that Partenopei supporters ‘don’t deserve him’, and the mounting tension has suggested Arsenal may indeed be able to pry him loose.
But on Sunday against Torino, he was at last able to break his duck. Insigne scored and assisted Jose Callejon’s winner as Napoli came back to defeat the Granata 2-1.
Reports have now emerged that Insigne is set to be handed an improved contract by De Laurentiis, extending his deal to 2019 from 2018.
The move is believed to be part of plan to offer the youngster improved terms on a yearly basis in order to guarantee the Naples native’s long-term future at the club.
If Arsenal had designs of making an opportune swoop to take Insigne for themselves at a difficult moment, this revelation certainly pours cold water on them.
The 23-year-old has said in the past he’s happy to stay with the only club he’s ever known as long as they’ll have him. De Laurentiis, in turn, seems keen to see him become an icon with the Vesuviani.
Insgine responded to his goal on Sunday with tears of joy and thanked fans for their support – so he seems quite willing to put up with the criticism that comes with the expectations of being a hometown favourite.