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Struggling Napoli star possibly a top Premier League target

Apr 17, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT

Hamsik Getty Images

According to a number of reports across both England and Italy, Napoli will begin to shop electric midfielder Marek Hamsik in the summer.

Said by multiple reports to be “unhappy” under Rafa Benitez, the 26-year-old is a potential sale chip for the Italian club to raise money for a go at shoring up their defense.

According to the stories, Napoli would not accept anything less than $53.8 million for his services.

Six apiece in goals and assists this Serie A season, Hamsik is a regular starter in the Napoli lineup, but thanks to a poor fitness level this season, he’s only made the full 90 minutes twice in his last 10 starts.

In addition, his production has fallen mightily since a torrid start to the season. Of his six goals this year, four of them came in Napoli’s first two league games of the season, in which he recorded a brace in each.  He hasn’t scored since November second, his goal tally is the lowest of his Napoli career, and his six assists the lowest since the 2009/10 season.

With this lack of performance quality, Goran Pandev has seen an increased role in the attacking midfielder role, slotted just behind the striker in Hamsik’s normal position. This was the case in Napoli’s last match, a 4-2 win over Lazio in which Hamsik was an unused substitute with Pandev favored by Benitez.

The manager’s inability to get the best – or even close to it – out of Hamsik is likely the genesis for many of these reports, but if his performance doesn’t improve on the season’s home stretch, it’s not unimaginable that Napoli would part with one of their most important players in the offseason.

Said to be interested in are Chelsea and Manchester United, with a price of $53 million floated by the reports.

Just last week, Chelsea’s new midfielder Nemanja Matic told English media, “I like the way Marek Hamsik of Napoli plays, it was very difficult to control in the midfield. As well as Messi, this is obvious.” Hmm, or not, Nemanja. Maybe a bit of a stretch.

With a sale of Hamsik, Napoli could then turn the money around to focus on their defense, with reports of interest in Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen being floated.

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