For his part, Aurelio De Laurentiis, the boss of Napoli, had opted for a nickname that was original to say the least when the Georgian international arrived (17 caps, 8 goals): “Zizì”. “How is his name pronounced? I will have to invent it, joked the interested party. I’ll see what I’m going to call it, maybe Zizì… Anyway, I hope I made a big hit.” If we could cast some doubts on the quality of the nickname proposed by the whimsical Neapolitan president, we can only follow in his footsteps on his last assertion. Yes, recruiting Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (pronounced “Cuarascelia”) was quite a cut.
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In seven matches (6 in Serie A, 1 in C1), the Georgian has already scored four goals and delivered two assists. But not only. Around him, the madness is growing. The tifosi only have eyes for the one who won the trophy for best player of the month in August in Serie A. The press even renamed him “Kvaradona”, an obvious contraction of Kvaratskhelia and Maradona, the immortal legend of the Neapolitan club.
If the comparison is obviously more than premature, it gives the idea of the impact of the 21-year-old player. In the shadow of Vesuvius, the latter reignited the volcano of the Stadio Maradona at the start of the season, somewhat extinguished after a transfer window deemed disappointing, in the absence of the arrival of big names, in addition to those who have packed their bags (Mertens, Koulibaly, Ospina, Insigne, Fabian Ruiz…). Leading the championship with AC Milan and Atalanta, Napoli, carried by Kvaratskhelia, even crushed Liverpool (4-1) in the Champions League on September 7, delivering one of the “greatest performances in club history” according to the transalpine press.
“He didn’t score, but he’s simply impregnable for the Reds’ defenders“, wrote The Repubblica the next day, awarding it a 7.5 out of 10.”Great“, “except category” or “luminous“: observers are rave about qualifying “Khvicha”. “It’s like a pizza or a “parmigiana“smiles Vincenzo Credendino, journalist at CN24 TV, a Naples television channel. These are dishes that the more you eat, the better they taste. It’s the same thing. Before arriving, fans were watching his videos and saying: “ok, but he was playing in a weaker league”. But he confirmed in the friendlies this summer, and they were like, ‘Okay, but these are friendlies’. Then came the official matches, where he sublimated against Lecce and Monza. And again: “Ok, but they are weaker opponents”. After scoring against Lazio, the consecration came against Liverpool, a sacred monster of football. There, everyone understood.”
A video in full containment, then…
His start to the season is a surprise to almost everyone. Yes, “almost”, since the Neapolitan leaders have not stopped repeating all the good they thought of Kvaratskhelia this summer, convinced of having struck hard by tearing it away from the competition of the “Juventus Turin, Roma or Real Sociedad“, according to Cristiano Giuntoli, the sports director of the Parthenopean club. The latter also told the backstage of his recruitment.
“The first time I saw it was in a video during confinementhe told the Corriere dello Sport last September 9 (…) I remember that with Gattuso, then on the bench, we called Kakhaber Kaladze (former Georgian international from AC Milan, editor’s note). He had gone through Lokomotiv Moscow without making sparks, before joining Rubin Kazan. We were asked for 30 million euros at the time, enough to close the discussions. We wanted to recruit (Victor) Osimhen at the time, we couldn’t spend a lot.”
Devastating dribbling, reference to Maradona, celebration of Curry: “Zizi” has already charmed Napoli
Time may pass, Giuntoli does not forget the Georgian nugget. “When the conflict between Ukraine and Russia broke out, he returned to Georgia. We darkened with the contract to complete this transfer at 10 million euros“, he confided. An operation which sums up rather well the new policy of the club, based on limited expenses and a payroll which is intended to be reasonable.Khvicha receives a net salary of 1.2 million euros (1.7 gross). Badge, it was a net salary of 4.5 million, or 9 million gross“, added Giuntoli, proud to be the great craftsman of this discovery.
“He ignites everyone”
Already at home, Kvaratskhelia excels in his ability to make differences as soon as he takes the ball. Very comfortable technically, he is able to take the ball with both feet, thus giving his opponent an impossible headache. A good dribbler, with an excellent shot and impressive in small spaces, the Georgian also does not skimp on defensive efforts without the ball, from pressing to withdrawal, sometimes causing him to lose a little lucidity from the start. hour of play.
“He’s a spectacular player capable of setting a stadium on fire all by himselfassures Vincenzo Credendino. He always tries to make a difference on a dribble, a pass… However, this spectacular side is always applied, useful, never banal and with a concrete objective. There is always a use for what he does. So we can say that so far, the pizza is not disappointing at all…“At least before another big test scheduled for this Sunday, at San Siro, for the clash of the leaders against AC Milan. Kvaratskhelia could well treat us there again.
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