x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Secure third in Italy and Napoli can keep stars such as Edinson Cavani

Come the end of the season, Napoli hope they may be evaluating the Argentine's two late goals in the draw with Udinese in tens of millions of euros, the rewards for being in the Uefa Champions League.

Udinese's Danilo Larangeira, left, fights for the ball with Napoli's Edinson Cavani. AFP
Udinese's Danilo Larangeira, left, fights for the ball with Napoli's Edinson Cavani. AFP

Come the end of the season, Napoli hope they may be evaluating Edinson Cavani's two late goals in the draw with Udinese last weekend in tens of millions of euros, the rewards for being in the Uefa Champions League.

At 2-0 down in the match, and with Cavani having failed to convert a penalty, the gap between the north-eastern club and the southern one threatened to stretch to three points.

Udinese, with a victory, would have moved into third place ahead of Lazio. Napoli would have been fifth but on the same 44 points as sixth-placed Roma.

As it is, the race for third and the final Champions League spot remains gripping. Napoli have the freshest taste of the competition and, since their roller-coaster ride in it, which ended in extra time at Chelsea, are hungry for more

So are Udinese, because they too were in the Champions League this season. Their stay, though, was short, having lost in a qualifier against Arsenal after a summer in which mainstays of the 2010/11 team such as Alexis Sanchez and Gokhan Inler had been sold.

There is a lesson in that.

Assuming AC Milan and Juventus take the automatic places next term, Lazio, or Udinese, and especially Napoli must resist selling.

Of the three, Napoli have the most coveted players, such as Cavani, but should be in the strongest position, economically, to keep them. For the health of Italian football, it should be hoped they can keep them and repeat their thrilling endeavours in the game's finest club competition.