After one of the most impressive breakout campaigns, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia is a hot property.
Napoli’s Georgian winger terrified defenders during his first season in Italy, inspiring the Partenopei to their first Serie A title in 33 years.
At just 22, the man nicknamed Kvaradona, a nod to late Napoli legend Diego Maradona, is high on the wish lists of several European giants.
However, with Napoli still hoping to tie him to a new deal, we take stock of what the future holds for him.
With 14 goals and 14 assists in 43 Serie A and Champions League appearances last season, Kvaratskhelia has already established himself as one of the most productive attackers on the continent.
That quick rise is particularly impressive given that he had only played in Russia and his native Georgia when Napoli shelled out less than £10m for his services last summer.
The Tbilisi-born sprinter’s underlying numbers show that he also brings a lot more to the party.
No Serie A player attempted (182) or completed (74) more possessions last season, while ranking in the top six in the division in both completions (432) and possession recoveries (38) in the last third.
Outgoing Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti said of him last month: “You can see that when he has the ball, everyone doubles down and fears him, so he opens up space for others.
“He can also go through any gap with his ability because he’s a stratospheric player.”
If any club is going to steer Kvaratskhelia away from Naples this summer, it might as well be Real Madrid.
The number 77 has confessed a childhood love for Los Blancos in previous interviews, something his father Badri reaffirmed last week.
Speaking to the press in Italy, he said: “His dreams, those ultimate goals, are to win the Champions League, play for Real Madrid and reach the big international tournaments with Georgia.”
The Spanish giants are certainly also looking to renew their attack.
A deal for long-term prime target Kylian Mbappe remains a pipe dream, while the recent surprise departure of Karim Benzema has opened another attacking void.
Liverpool is another team that closely follows the Napoli maestro.
The Reds have just endured an unusually disappointing campaign under Jurgen Klopp, failing to lift any trophy and failing to qualify for the Champions League.
Sadio Mane’s departure last summer certainly weakened the Merseysiders from an attacking perspective and Klopp will surely be keen to tackle that issue before the 2023-24 campaign gets underway.
Reports in April claimed Liverpool would be willing to honor Kvaratskhelia’s release clause, believed to be around £100m.
Klopp also lavished praise on the 22-year-old last November, saying: “He’s got speed, he’s cheeky, he comes in, he can come out. That makes it always really difficult to play against him.”
one more season
However, Napoli will be quietly confident of keeping their star man for at least one more season.
Asked about a summer switch last week and whether Partenopei fans could be optimistic about his staying, Kvaratskhelia said: “Of course they can be confident. I love Napoli.”
Reports in Italy suggest the Serie A Player of the Season has been offered a new contract that would see his basic salary double from roughly £35,000 to £67,000 a week.
All indications are that he’ll put pen and paper into that deal, though that doesn’t mean a move is completely out of the question.
Signing a long-term contract lifts Kvaratskhelia’s value to an astronomical level, but there is no doubt that one of Europe’s elite will pay for it if they continue their dazzling performances.