10th February 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
In Napoli's colossal 7-1 destruction of Bologna, their dynamic, all-action midfielder, Piotr Zielinski, once again showed why he's such a weapon for Maurizio Sarri's men.

This game served as another glowing reference that his presence really gives the Partonepei another dimension going forward. Although Allan, who's his main rival for a spot in Napoli's midfield alongside the sensational Marek Hamsik and the intelligent Amadou Diawara, is a fine player in his own right, he's more of an industrious, less offensively gifted operator.

From the outset against Bologna, Zielinski's energy, thoughtful movement and strong technical qualities ensured the Rossoblu had a tough evening containing Napoli's right sided central midfielder.

Firstly, his exquisite range of passing deserves special mention, for, aside from seeing him link up tidily with his colleagues, this aspect of his game saw him supply two absolutely outstanding assists. All it took was less than five minutes for Zielinski to showcase his passing genius, as he unleashed Lorenzo Insigne clean through on goal with a scintillating, 35 yard through ball in transition. Then, he backed this up beautifully by sliding a perfectly weighted defence splitting through ball for Dries Mertens, who subsequently rounded the keeper to score.

Indeed, these two moments of magic highlighted what an incisive asset his wand of a left foot unquestionably is for Napoli, but also how damaging he can be when afforded any sort of time and space to launch penetrative passes.

Within Sarri's fantastically coached side, which sees him instruct his players to position themselves on different heights and widths for optimal connectivity over the pitch, Zielinski's tactical acuity ensured he took up purposeful positions. By keeping his spacing at an ideal distance between his fellow midfielders, Diawara and Hamsik, his right winger, Jose Callejon, and his fullback, Elseid Hysaj, this guaranteed he was always available to inherit possession. Moreover, the manner in which he persistently exploited space in Bologna's defensive structure, courtesy of his cunning movement, added another layer of nuisance for the home side.

When the ball was on the right wing, his complimentary relationships with Hysaj and Callejon shone brightly too, with the threesome forming triangles close to one another as they looked to overload and pull apart their markers to progress upfield. It must be said, they did so with huge success through their quick combination play and subtle interchanges of position, something Sarri would've relished seeing.

After Callejon's red card, he was asked to essentially combine the roles of winger and central midfielder. And he performed his duties remarkably well, making especially great use of the half space to find openings, in order to open up the field for himself to use his speed and acceleration against Bologna, who would also go down to 10 men. As a testament to the effectiveness of this tactic, his second assist actually arose from this strategy.

Although his touch let him down on occasion, this was a performance littered with upside from the former Empoli hotshot, and one that strongly reiterated to his manager that he should be starting over Allan.

Looking back to the summer, where Liverpool were reportedly hugely interested in bringing him to Anfield, Zielinski will be very satisfied he opted to join Napoli, though. Seeing him thrive under the meticulous stewardship of Sarri has certainly worked wonders for his progression, as he's already adapted swimmingly and clearly loving life in Naples.

"I am happy at Napoli and settled in immediately," Zielinski explained. "We have great staff and many games to play, so that is why the coach rotates the squad. Sarri is a great coach with wonderful ideas."

For the man who's already notched a notable two goals and six assists in Serie A this term, the fact his Polish international teammate, Arkadiusz Milik, whom he shares an exemplary understanding with, is another massive positive looking ahead. "I get on well with Milik and always know where to find him and when I have to release the pass. I hope the good understanding we've developed at Napoli can also be replicated with the Poland national team," he said.

With a mouthwatering Champions League clash with Real Madrid on the horizon, Zielinski might just have done enough to earn himself a start against the current holders of the coveted title. For such a big match, being a player who can conjure something special out of nowhere, on top of all his other qualities, this should be enough to see the offensively gifted whizzkid get the nod vs Los Merengues.

He may not be a household name just yet, but with the enviable talent he possesses and the stage set perfectly for him to show his stuff vs Real Madrid, expect him to be a star sooner rather than later.

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