Benitez’s Napoli looking to Europe with or without Cavani

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Napoli have completed the signing of much-coveted winger Dries Mertens from PSV for 9.5 million Euros, and could be well equipped to mount a considerable challenge in the Champions League next season. 

The diminutive Belgian winger brings pace, trickery and deft passing to Rafael Benitez’s squad, and with 37 goals in just 62 league matches for the Dutch side is a veritable threat in front of goal. He is also highly adept in dead ball situations, and possesses more than enough talent to suggest he’ll thrive in Italy.

The core of the squad has recent experience in the tournament, reaching the round of 16 stage in 2011/12 before losing to eventual winners Chelsea in extra time – having previously qualified from a group including Manchester City and finalists that season Bayern Munich.

They also ended last season with eight wins from 10 to finish six points ahead of Milan and claim second place in Serie A.

The club unveiled Rafael Benitez as manager in May, an appointment that undoubtedly emphasises the continental ambitions of chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis.

The Spaniard won Europe’s premier club competition in his maiden season with Liverpool, with a far weaker and less experienced squad than he now has at his disposal. He also lead Liverpool to the final in 2007, and furthered his cup credentials with a third European trophy with Chelsea in last season’s Europa League having assumed the managerial reins deep into the season.

At 50/1 the Neapolitans are good value to win the Champions League next season, especially in each-way terms.

Much of the talk surrounding the club’s short-term prospects has centred on the future of striker Edinson Cavani, on whom interest appears to be cooling after much speculation.

Should the Uruguayan depart the San Paolo this summer the club look set to receive an enormous sum, with figures in the region 50 million pounds being quoted regularly. Whatever the outcome, Napoli look set to profit – on the assumption that they invest any takings wisely, of course.

Bayern Munich are currently favourites to retain their title at 7/2, ahead of Barcelona at 4/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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