Hamsik unlike Gerrard but still apple of Benitezís eyes
Napoli manager Rafael Benitez has shrugged off reports suggesting Marek Hamsik is from the same mold as Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard. Hamsik, who just recently scored a brace in Napoli’s 4-2 win over Chievo, won praise from the former Liverpool boss as he pointed him out to be a vital player in his squad.
Hamsik has now scored two braces in two games, which makes him the top goal scorer in Serie A. The 26-year attacking midfielder’s efforts have led Napoli to the top of the table, an early boost against the league’s defending champions Juventus.
Upon being questioned whether Hamsik and the charismatic Liverpool midfielder were similar, Benitez said that there were stark contrasts between the two players. The England captain and the Slovakian midfielder both have a dominating presence on-field, but Hamsik has shifted to a more attacking position because of his youth whereas Gerrard has shifted himself into the middle of the park.
“It's clear he's important to us, he makes room for the other offensive players,” Benitez said. “Is Hamsik to Napoli the equivalent of Gerrard to Liverpool? They are different, Hamsik doesn't have Gerrard's strength but more tactical intelligence. He is the strength of this team at this time.”
Benitez’s summer signing Gonzalo Higuain proved his mettle in the game as well. The former Real Madrid striker has been able to make a strong impact since moving from Bernabeu this summer, but the Argentinean hit-man was on target for his side against Chievo.
“There were so many good things today,” Benitez added. “We controlled the game and made goals. You could see the team had character and wanted to win.”
Benitez also commented against criticism suggesting there were defensive issues with the Spaniard’s squad. Napoli have conceded goals against minnows in the team. As a matter of fact it’s their impressive goal-scoring record that has kept them on top.
“A new defender? For us, it's important to work with who we have, then we'll see. Of course there were errors against a tactical opponent but our reaction and ideas were clear tonight,” Benitez said.