Manu Fernandez/Associated Press
Napoli are reportedly hoping to land Barcelona winger Gerard Deulofeu on loan in January.
According to Rai Sport (h/t AS), Partenopei boss Maurizio Sarri believes the 23-year-old would be the ideal candidate to afford him more opportunities to rest and rotate Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne for the remainder of the season.
Deulofeu was brought back to his boyhood club in the summer from Everton when Barcelona activated his buy-back clause, with the player having spent the second half of last season on loan from the Toffees at AC Milan.
However, he has made just seven starts between La Liga and the UEFA Champions League, playing a total of 640 minutes in the two competitions.
The Spaniard has been left out of Barca’s matchday squad entirely for the last two league matches. Yahoo Sports’ Andrew Gaffney has speculated on his future as a result:
Andrew Gaffney @GaffneyVLC
Deulofeu left out of Barcelona’s squad. Not injured, just a ‘technical decision’. I wonder if he’ll be on the move *again* in January.. https://t.co/ywrDdzdDc2
BeIN Sports’ David Cartlidge has not been impressed with Deulofeu:
Following Neymar’s departure in the summer and Ousmane Dembele’s long-term injury early in the campaign, there has been scope for Deulofeu to nail down a starting berth in Barca’s front three , but he hasn’t capitalised on the opportunity.
As such, it would perhaps not be too surprising if the winger were to move on again as early as January.
He could be a shrewd capture for Napoli, though, given the way he impressed in Serie A last season.
GianlucaDiMarzio.com’s David Amoyal hailed his performances over half a campaign with the Rossoneri:
David Amoyal @DavidAmoyal
Huge goal by Deulofeu for Milan, he was one of the best additions for any team in Serie A during the last January transfer window
A loan move might also suit Napoli if they’re just looking for a short-term solution to their lack of depth in forward areas, given the best periods of Deulofeu’s career have largely been contained to six-month spells.
As well as his stint with Milan, Deulofeu also impressed during the 2015-16 campaign with Everton as he racked up 13 assists and four goals, almost all of which came in the first half of the season before he tailed off after January.
Barca would likely prefer to sell him if he does move on, though, so much could depend on their flexibility in the matter.