Archive for the ‘Napoli’ Category

Bernardo’s Napoli Chances Looking Up

April 17, 2009

Napoli primavera striker Vincenzo Bernardo seems to be inching closer to a chance to dress with the first team in Serie A action sometime before the season ends. After practicing most of the season with the first team, the New Jersey native has been spending more time playing each week with the primavera (reserve) squad and but drawing more attention from the Napoli management and local media.

In today’s primavera friendly match against Napoli’s first team, (which normally ends 7-0 for the first team) Bernardo scored in a 5-1 losing effort for the youngsters, drawing praise from Coach Roberto Donadoni in the process.

Donodani has a history of experimenting with young players so the chance that Bernardo could suit up sometime this spring could be on the upswing.

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Coaching Change At Napoli Could Benefit Bernardo

March 17, 2009

After a superb five year coaching stint at Napoli, Edy Reja brought the Partenopei from the depths of Serie C all the way back near the top of the Serie A table. He did so with shrewd purchases and strong attacking football – all with a budget dwarfed by the bigger clubs in Italy.

But in 2009 with whispers of Champions League in the air, Napoli’s tires went flat with an eight game winless streak and an unsettled clubhouse. Sometimes the one who got you where you are isn’t necessarily the one to take you to the next level so Napoli’s management opted to replace Reja with former AC Milan great Roberto Donodoni.

Of course Reja was the one who took a shine to young American primavera striker Vincenzo Bernardo last fall after watching him score against his first team while causing some unexpected trouble for his defense in practice. Reja had the club sign Bernardo to a professional contract and has since had the New Jersey native train with the first team almost every day.

Now with Reja out of the picture, we’ve got to wonder what this will mean for Bernardo’s future chances at Napoli. In January, the club turned down several loan offers from Serie B clubs as well as teams in England, Belgium, and Romania since they wanted an ironclad deal that he would play (and were even willing to provide financial incentives to ensure he saw plently of playing time). Instead, the 19 year old remained at Napoli training with the first team while making occasional appearances for the primavera (reserve) side.

When asked about the new coaching situation at Napoli, Bernardo stated: “I’m grateful to coach Reja both for the chance with Napoli and for all I’ve learned from him. I’m looking forward to learning from Coach Donadoni and I remember watching him back he he was playing for the Metrostars.”

Word out of the Napoli camp is that Donadoni has seen Bernardo in training with the first team and it appears he is remaining with that group for now – a good sign.

As Napoli’s chances for earning a Champions League and UEFA Cup positions start to fade, the chances that Bernardo could actually suit up at least once for the Napoli first team seem to be increasing. When teams hit the end phase of the season well clear of the relegation zone and out of the running for a European spot (the limbo zone), managers are more likely to experiment with young players and to start laying the groundwork for the future. After last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Reggina (which was nearly a loss before Ezequiel Lavezzi saved a point), Napoli now appears more firmly entrenched in the limbo zone.

While this does not mean Donadoni is ready to start experimenting yet, don’t be surprised to see him give a few more young players a runout in the San Paolo as the season fades. Whether one of them is Bernardo remains to be seen but hey, you never know.

Eduardo Salvio: The Next Big Thing?

January 27, 2009

While Arsenal courts Zenith for Andrei Arshavin, Real Madrid begs and pleads for Cristiano Ronaldo, and other clubs are going after the hottest players in the game, there is still a wave of scary talent coming forward from the youth ranks. One in particular is 18 year-old Argentine wunderkind Eduardo Salvio who has already scored 4 goals in 14 appearances for Lanús, including putting two past Boca Juniors. He is also working his way up through Argentina’s highly competitive youth system, recently shining in the South American U-20 championship. Just three days ago, he led his Argentine team to a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Peru, scoring the winning goal.

“I can play anywhere, inside or outside, but it does not frighten me to go one-on-one with the goalkeeper,” said a confident Salvio to Gazzetto. “My mirror player plays in another position, and he is Juan Román Riquelme.”

Salvio is a combination of fast, clever, and very technical and with his diminutive 5’5” frame, nothing but trouble for defenders once he has the ball at his feet. He is already being hailed as the next Lionel Messi and Ezequiel Lavezzi (who are both mentioned as the next Maradona) in the great tradition of Argentine supporting strikers such as Carlos Tevez, Messi, Javier Saviola, and others.

Now, teams like Roma, AC Milan, Inter, Napoli, Fiorentina, Juventus, CSKA Moscow, Genoa, Sevilla, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Villarreal and Atlético Madrid are hot on his trail.

So, it is no surprise that in today’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, we see that Juve’s management are making their move by sending chief scout Renzo Castagnini to Argentina to work out a deal before another club gets there first. They’ll be hard pressed to trump Napoli, which has always been a second home for Argentine players on the continent, including Maradona, Lavezzi, German Denis, and others. That said, Juve’s deeper pockets would probably carry the day.

According to Gazzetto, to seal the deal Juventus is ready to ante up with at least €8.5 million and plans to finance it through the sale of forward Vincenzo Iaquinta to an interested Russian club Zenit St Petersburg (which also indicates they are resigned to losing Arshavin).

But any deal may not happen until summer since Lanús president Alejandro Marón, has a stated policy that the club’s youth players must play a full season before any transfers are allowed.

Meanwhile, Juventus has reportedly approached Chelsea to discuss a loan deal for French winger Florent Malouda. Malouda has not fared well since the arrival of Chelsea boss Felipe Scolari but his old Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri, now at Juventus, thinks he can help the team challenge Inter for the Scuddetto.

Happy Thanksgiving Soccer Fans!

November 27, 2008

Well, I’m off with my wife to the other side of Italy for a few days to check out the heel of the boot. We hope soccer fans everywhere have a great Thanksgiving and we’ll be back up online this weekend.

In the meantime, check out my new article at Soccer Times which gets more in depth on a few American players (pictured here) which readers have said they’d like to know more about. To find out who they are, check the link above.

Photo by Rodrigo Erades

Szetela Watches From The Bench As Brescia Drops Another

November 8, 2008

Brescia continued its slide in Serie B, losing its second match in a row, this time to 15th place Piacenza, 1-0. American Danny Szetela appears to have fallen out of favor with coach Nedo Sonetti, having been bumped by 23 year-old Marco Zambelli the past two weeks. Of course the more Sonetti seems to tinker with the lineup, the more inconsistent (and less successful) the side has been. So, Szetela may be able to work his way back into the mix – we’ll see.

Elsewhere in Italy, Gabriel Ferrari’s Perugia side takes on Foggia tomorrow afternoon in Serie C competition. Meanwhile, Vincenzo Bernardo and the Napoli reserves take on Bari in reserve league play. Bernardo leaves for Madrid next week to join the US U-2o squad for a training camp. This week, LFV will chat with Bernardo before he leaves for Madrid to discuss, among other things, what its like to train each week with two of Serie A’s hottest young strikers: German Dennis and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

More on the U-20 Camp courtesy of US Soccer Communications:

U-20 MNT TO HOLD TRAINING CAMP IN MADRID, SPAIN: U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Thomas Rongen has named 18 players that will travel to Madrid, Spain, from Nov. 15-23. The team will play games against club teams, with dates and opponents to be confirmed. The squad boasts nine professional players who play in seven different leagues around the world, including a pair from Germany’s Hertha Berlin in Bryan Arguez and Alfredo Morales and a duo from Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas in Josh Lambo and Anthony Wallace. Tristan Bowen of the Los Angeles Galaxy, Jorge Flores of Chivas USA and Abdusalam Ibrahim from Toronto FC round out the MLS contingent. All five of the domestically-based youth players play for clubs from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy: Gale Agbossoumonde (IMG Academies), Anthony Arena (Crossfire Premier), Bill Hamid (D.C. United Academy), Josh Hernandez (FC Dallas Juniors) and Zarek Valentin (PA Classics). Hamid replaces fellow U.S. U-17 Residency player Earl Edwards, who was named to the original roster. The U-20 Men’s National Team is preparing for CONCACAF Under-20 World Cup qualifying, which will take place in Trinidad early in 2009.

U.S. U-20 MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bill Hamid (Anandale, Va.; D.C. United Academy), Josh Lambo (Middleton, Wis.; FC Dallas)
DEFENDERS (5): Gale Agbossoumonde (Syracuse, N.Y.; IMG Academy), Anthony Arena (Kenmore, Wash.; Crossfire Premier), Kyle Davies (Daniville, Calif.; Southampton FC), Zarek Valentin (Lancaster, Pa.; PA Classics), Anthony Wallace (St. Petersburg, Fla.; FC Dallas)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Bryan Arguez (Miami; Hertha Berlin), Jorge Flores (Anaheim, Calif.; Chivas USA), Gregory Garza (Grapevine, Texas; Sporting Lisbon), Josh Hernandez (Dallas, Texas; FC Dallas Juniors), Jared Jeffrey (Richardson, Texas; Club Brugge), Alfredo Morales (Berlin; Hertha Berlin), Giuseppe Nazzani (Reggio Emilia, Italy; Bologna FC)
FORWARDS (4): Vincenzo Bernardo (Madison, N.J.; SSC Napoli), Tristan Bowen (Van Nuys, Calif.; Los Angeles Galaxy), Abdusalam Ibrahim (Richfield, Minn.; Toronto FC), Jose Torres (Coronado, Calif.; Loros de Colina)

Bernardo Signs 3-Year Deal With Napoli

September 24, 2008

US national youth team player Vincenzo Bernardo has just signed a 3-year professional deal with Serie A side Napoli which ties him to the club until 2011. Currently with the Napoli reserve team, the 18 year-old New Jersey native saw his fortunes rise this fall after a strong reserve friendly performance against the first team a few weeks ago.

Head coach Edy Reja was so impressed with the young Bernardo’s play in the match that he called him in to train with the first team for a week where he showed well and impressed team scouts (as well as some suitors from England and Spain). By the end of the week, Bernardo’s agent called him to inform him that the club wanted to offer him a professional contract and by last weekend, the deal was done. “Its a dream come true, I’m very thankful” remarked Bernardo after a training session today at the club’s Castel Volturno training grounds.

While Napoli already has a great deal of first team talent at forward, the club indicates Bernardo is likely to be called into first team training when Reja needs to shore up his options, including during UEFA and Coppa Italia weeks and around FIFA international match weeks when the team loses several forwards to national team duty. While they appear to have future plans for him, whether he can crack the first 18 this year remains to be seen but Bernardo is realistic: “There could be a chance at some point but I need to work hard, be patient, and see what happens. Just to be training with the first team is a good experience. ”

On training with players like Argentine internationals Ezequiel Lavezzi and German Denis, or Uruguayan international Walter Gargano, Bernardo remarked that: “It definitely raises the bar on everything you need to do since everyone is watching and you are going up against some really good players – you need to perform. They are not only good players but also great people, they are ready to help you and there is a real good feeling with them.”

When asked if he’ll be getting any future chances with the US National Youth teams, Bernardo stated: “Its always an honor to be called in represent your country. If they call, I’ll be there any time they want me.

In the meantime, Bernardo will continue to train alternately with the reserve and first teams and is looking forward to the reserve team’s first league match against Ascoli on October 11th.


Young Americans Prepare For Italian Season

August 8, 2008

While their countrymen battle for advancement in the Olympic Games over in China, two young Americans are preparing themselves for the upcoming Italian soccer season.

Gabriel Ferrari, on loan from Sampdoria to Perugia, seems to be settling in well already seeing 75 minutes of playing time in this week’s 3-2 preseason win over Serie A side Catania. A week earlier, he started and scored a 45th minute goal in a 4-2 win over Castel Rigone.

Perugia was a former Serie A/Serie B regular until a series of financial irregularities led to the club’s collapse and re-founding in 2005, starting the 2006 season in Serie C2 (4th division). They’ve now found their way to the new Lega Pro (3rd division) with their sights on returning to Serie B, and eventually Serie A. Its a good situation for Ferrari; a club with aspirations where he can see plenty of playing time. If all goes well, he can either return to Sampdoria or stay on if Perugia earns promotion to Serie B.

Down south in Naples, Vincenzo Bernardo has returned from playing for the US U-20 team in the Milk Cup, an experience he called “very rewarding.” Vincenzo came back to SSC Napoli to learn that 20 of the players he worked with last year had been chopped, leaving only seven, including Bernardo, to form the nucleus of the primavera (reserve) team. With preseason training starting in two weeks, Bernardo is keeping himself fit running up and down the mountains surrounding Naples in the oven-like heat of southern Italy. “Its a good way to prepare myself and get even more fit for the season” said Bernardo today after returning from a long run in the scorching heat.

"El Tanque" Promises Napoli 20 Goals

July 3, 2008


Here in bella Napoli there is much excitement over new signing German Denis, acquired from Independiente in a five year deal for €8 million. The 26-year-old came on the recommendation of last year’s Neapolitan Argentine sensation, Ezequiel Lavezzi and will complete an all-Argentine attack for the Ciucciarelli.

Yesterday Denis promised to score 20 goals this season and after scoring 15 goals in his first 13 games of Argentina’s apertura, the Napoli faithful seem ready to believe him.

“I want to do well with the shirt of Napoli and try to win the championship,” said ‘El Tanque’, who was presented to the media along with fellow new signings Christian Maggio and Leandro Rinaudo.

Hopefully, 18 year old American striker Vincenzo Bernardo, who plays for the SSC Napoli reserve team can learn some new tricks from Denis. Bernardo finished a respectable reserve season tallying five goals and eight assists in 15 games and even began training with the first team.

Napoli begins training on July 24th in Austria minus Lavezzi and Nicolas Navarro, both on Olympic duty for Argentina.