Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, the Georgian Maradona in Naples who is too hot to deal with

In Kobuleti on the Black Sea coast, the local football team is a second division team called Škura, which plays in the Chile Arena. The stadium got its name from Rivas Chelibadze, the famous son of this Georgian city and a member of the Dinamo Tbilisi team who became the champion of the Soviet Union in 1978. The affectionate miniature “Chile” that the silky Chelibadze was famous for was a nod to Pele, the player considered by his generation to be the greatest player of his generation. all ages.

“Let’s not forget that Georgians are well accustomed to the skill,” Yuri Simin recently told the daily Il Mattino in Naples. “In the days of the USSR, they were called the Brazilians of the USSR.” The old man in Russian coaching never ceased to be very interested in the Erovnoli league. On his way, Semin’s semi-80s winds up with a new Georgian talent during another spell of his running Lokomotiv Moscow. This was two years ago and there was a teenager playing in Rustavi, not far from the borders with Azerbaijan and Armenia. His name appears to be Georgie due to “burning coals”, which soon made sense to anyone who watched him, as no one could touch him.

Too hot to handle, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia lit the Georgian second tier.

Presumably, the data providers that provide coverage of the world’s most obscure leagues thought their dribbling metrics broke because the kid from Tbilisi was regularly averaging over 10 per game. In the Georgian-Brazilian tradition, it was as if Dinamo, his father’s club, had found “Kvarincha”. No doubt, Rustavi would have liked to loan him again, but Simin got Kvaratskhelia on board with Lokomotiv instead. “Personally, I’ve been following him since he was fifteen,” Simin said. “And he still manages to surprise me every time.”

Surprisingly protecting him is now in Serie A. The season may have only been two weeks away in Italy, but Kvaratskhelia has already been announced The inspiration. Three goals in his first two appearances – a header, a right-footed screamer and a left-footed crossover – make this the most prolific start to any player’s career in Napoli’s history. He’s already scored more goals from open play than Lorenzo Insigne last season.

Semin is likely to expect top scorer Kvaratskhelia to nickname “Kvarica” ​​after Careca, the Brazilian component of the legendary Ma-Gi-Ca acronym that evokes Napoli’s magical attack line in Diego. maRadona, Bruno JOrdano and CaliforniaRica from the eighties. Perhaps the younger generations went with “Kvani”, especially since Kvaratskhelia wanted to wear the old Edinson Cavani shirt number 7 – Cristiano Ronaldo was the Georgian idol as a child. Unfortunately, it belongs to Eljif Elmas and Kvaratskhelia was forced to settle number 77.

Naples is a city that does not know half-measures. It’s a place where mozzarella balls are eaten milky apple Baba comes drenched in rum. So Kvaradona is, and that was even before Kvaratskhelia played a game in the blue. Perhaps because it Living is life By Opus in its inception, the song was popularized by warm-up routine Maradona did his rhythm before the UEFA Cup semi-final against Bayern Munich in 1989. Probably because he took the Napolitans out of the tongue-twisting job exclusive Kvaratskhelia. “I know Maradona means everything to Naples,” Kaffar said somewhat shyly at his unveiling. “The big responsibility comes from mentioning it in the same sentence he mentioned. I can’t get close to Maradona, but I will do my best to be a great player for this club. Obviously, I love the title.”

All the attention Kvaratskhelia got from the promise to burden the rookie and went beyond Maradona’s new expressions that he had to carry with him. The winger was replacing Euro 2020 champion and club captain Insigne, A scugnizzo From the Frattamaggiore district of Naples who left for Toronto FC to be Napoli’s second-best scorer of all time.

“There is still a lot of pressure on him” after the weekend’s 4-0 win over newly promoted Monza, in which Kvaratschilia scored twice, said Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti. “He was really nervous before the match. Once he takes that pressure off and starts to loosen up, you will see who the player is. He is already enough as he is, but he can do more.” The same thing Spalletti thought about Mohamed Salah when he trained him in Rome and looked at the Egyptian player he has become.

If a narrow Kvaratskhelia can tie defenders in knots, he can’t really bear to think about what he might be able to do once he’s relaxed. Tougher tests will come from Hellas Verona and Monza and the defensive side in the Kvaratskhelia match needs work.

Davide Varone, the Verona winger, easily crossed a cross by Thomas Henry at Bentegodi in the first round. A high throw-in on the field encouraged Varoni to take a risk on the striker after he spent nearly the entire first half worrying too much about Kvaratskhelia to press into open play.

The utter unpredictability of his Georgian opponent intimidated him. Unlike the pint-sized Insigne who can be relied upon to cut from the inside and try the trademark curls in the far corner – copyright terajiro – Or bend the cross of Jose Callejon to run on her in the far corner, hard-to-read Kvaratskhelia. That doesn’t mean Insigne was easy to stop. In the same way, everyone knew what Arjen Robben was planning to do and still managed to do it. Insigne’s mastery of his leanings has resulted in him scoring 122 times for the club.

By contrast, Kvaratskhelia is as difficult to decipher as its name in Asomtavruli, Nuskhuri, and Mkhedruli; The three writing systems used in writing the Georgian language. He can defeat you quickly, which is why Napoli left-back Mario Rui could shoot the ball forward and start a foot race between Kvaratskhelia and his defender. He can jump inside and hit a terajiro On his own, as he did for his first goal against Monza, or overtake you with his right and finish with the left, as he did in his second goal.

In the assembly, the side built by Napoli sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli for Spalletti is stunning. Napoli have evolved from Sarrismo’s elegant, angular, pass-and-pass style of play to another style based on one-touch possession, but a more stretchable, springy and vertical style under Spalletti. Diego Armando Maradona’s stadium has become a dodger’s paradise with fickle midfielders such as Andre Zambo Anguesa and Tanguy Ndombele, long-paced strikers molding the brittle, tall Victor Osimhen, clever tackles with Chucky Lozano’s changing pace, and tough runs. I got my work ethic from my parents Giovanni Simeone.

It is an exciting team, who can play in transition, smash low blocks and menace in the air. Frisons increases every time Kvaratskhelia touches the ball and if we exclude Bosman’s free transfer, he is a very early candidate for the deal of the season in the First Division. FIFA’s decision in March to enable foreign players and coaches working for Russian clubs to suspend their contracts in the league. The aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine led to the return home of Kvaratskhelia, who left Rubin Kazan for Dinamo Batumi. Paying €10m (£8.4m, $10m) for a player to play in Georgia’s casino capital might have been considered a gamble by some, but the fee Napoli paid for the 21-year-old seems cheap.

The Kvaratskhelia Stadium will not be named after him in Naples as Chelbadze did in Kobuleti. Maradona can rest in peace. But if infidels continue in this form, it will not only be a victory for the scouts, it will be a reminder that in a global game like football, there are great players to be found everywhere. It remains one of the enduring beauty of the sport.

(Top image: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images)


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