Things have not gone well for Rafael Benitez’s Napoli this season, with everything from fan revolt to reports the club will be sold compounding poor results on the pitch.
A disappointing start to the Serie A campaign followed on the heels of the Partenopei’s failure to reach the group stage of the Champions League after capitulating to Athletic Bilbao.
For captain Marek Hamsik, the difficulties have been especially hard to take. His personal struggles trace back to last season, when he came under a torrent of criticism for underperforming.
The remaining piece of Napoli’s ‘Three Tenors’ – which included now-PSG stars Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi – was linked with a summer exit to Manchester United.
Hamsik ultimately stayed at the Stadio San Paolo, but his future there has remained an object of contention. His agent made some unsettling comments earlier this month that suggested a move could be on the cards at some point.
These comments come amid reports that Liverpool could move for the seven-year Napoli man either in January or June to make a quality addition in midfield.
Hamsik, however, looked committed as ever to the Partenopei in finally jumpstarting his and the club’s season on Sunday against Hellas Verona.
The Slovakian was superb in bagging a brace and an assist to guide Napoli to a 6-2 victory after going down inside the opening 60 seconds of the contest.
He said of the result: “We struggled at the beginning because of the goal we gave up in the first few seconds, but then I was able to score twice.
“We needed this win; I’m very happy Gonzalo Higuain was able to score again.
“It was a positive night for the fans as well, they were finally able to witness an enjoyable spectacle at the San Paolo.”
Fears had arisen in Naples that Hamsik and Higuain could both be on their way if the side’s form didn’t pick up, likely requiring Champions League football to remain.
The questionable form of the duo prior to Sunday did little to quell those fears, though both exploded into life to put the Partenopei back on track yesterday.
Napoli desperately needed to get the fans on side and accomplished both that and pulling to within two points of the top three on the Serie A table on the same day.
For now Hamsik’s status at Napoli looks to have been firmed up against reported Liverpool interest, though the club will need to maintain momentum to make sure the Reds remain as far out of the 27-year-old’s stream of consciousness as possible.