Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti and Sporting Director Cristiano Giuntoli have been full of praise for Arsenal and Everton’s summer transfer target Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa.
The midfielder joined the Azzurri on loan from Fulham on Deadline Day after earlier links with a Premier League transfer. The Daily Mail touted Arsenal, Aston Villa and Everton as potential landing spots for Anguissa after the Cottagers dropped into the Championship.
But Fulham wanted £20m for the Cameroonian, which proved enough to keep English sides at bay. Napoli eventually agreed a last-ditch season-long loan for the 25-year-old, including a €15m (£13m) option to buy next summer.
Anguissa wildly exceeding Napoli expectations
Anguissa has made an instant impact at Napoli to show Arsenal and Everton what they missed out on this summer. The £70k-a-week loanee has helped win all four available Serie A fixtures, and clean sheets in their last three-straight games.
Sporting Director Giuntoli did not expect the 30-cap international to make such an impact so soon into his Azzurri career. But told DAZN, via Calciomercato, after beating Cagliari on Sunday how injuries for Diego Demme and Stanislav Lobotka opened the door for him.
“We were quite counted at the beginning of the season because both Demme and Lobotka were unavailable, and therefore he has to play almost by force,” he said. “We knew the strength of the player. He had an extraordinary impact, beyond the wildest expectations.”
Arsenal and Everton miss out on resilient enforcer
Anguissa is showing at Napoli what Everton and Arsenal likely believed the Fulham loanee was capable of providing them. He is controlling fixtures under Spalletti, who told DAZN, via TuttoMercatoWEB, how the midfielder goes against what he usually wants.
“He comes from a football of struggle and physicality, coverage of spaces and resistance,” Spalletti said. “Instead, we favour other characteristics and for this, it becomes evident, especially to Napoli, which had lacked in this sense.
“At the end of the first-half, he comes to the locker room and talks about what is happening, what he has seen on the pitch. In jargon, we say ‘takes the news’ and understands the behaviour of the opposing team. He is very intelligent and strong, besides being a very young boy. He made friends with the whole group.”
Mikel Arteta would surely have liked to see Anguissa displaying the traits Spalletti praises him for offering Napoli at Arsenal. The Spaniard recalled Granit Xhaka against Tottenham on Sunday, but saw the Swiss deliver some unnecessary fouls and mistimed tackles.
Everton’s midfielders will have pleased Rafa Benitez since he replaced Carlo Ancelotti, who wanted Anguissa, though. Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan have delivered top-draw displays at Goodison Park, with power, hard-running and clever tackles.