Manolo Gabbiadini’s rapturous welcome at Napoli seemed a world away on Monday as the hapless forward contemplated a suspension to add to his recent woes after his red card in the 2-1 win at Crotone.
Largely confined to a substitutes’ role last season when he scored nine goals in all competitions, Gabbiadini was handed an unexpected chance for a starting place when first choice forward Arkadiusz Milik suffered a knee injury while playing for Poland.
But it has all gone wrong for the 24-year-old, who was greeted by hundreds of fans amid chaotic scenes at Naples airport when he arrived from Sampdoria in January 2015 for a fee of 12 million euros ($13.06 million).
Gabbiadini, who has won six caps for Italy, has had three attempts in the last week to stake his claim for a place in the team.
The first ended amid jeers when he was hauled off after an hour following a lame display in the 3-1 defeat by AS Roma.
He was agonisingly close to redemption against Besiktas last Wednesday when, having equalised with a penalty, he had the ball in the net with an overhead kick, only to see his celebration cruelly cut short by the linesman’s flag.
Besiktas added insult to injury by grabbing a late goal for a 3-2 win.
On Sunday, his frustration boiled over during what should have been a routine match at basement club Crotone.
With half an hour gone and Napoli leading 1-0, Gabbiadini was fouled by Gian Marco Ferrari and aimed at wild kick at his opponent, earning a straight red card.
“I was afraid he could have hurt me with that tackle. I’m sorry, I lost my head,” said Gabbiadini
He must now sit out Wednesday’s home game against Empoli and could also miss the match at Juventus on Saturday if the disciplinary committee opt for more than the automatic one-match ban. Coach Maurizio Sarri said that Gabbiadini just needed to clear his head and control his nerves.
“Manolo is a little introverted and likes to keep himself to himself and it doesn’t help when he’s the centre of attention,” he said after the win which kept Napoli in fourth place, four points behind leaders Juventus.
“I’m always being asked questions about Gabbiadini, some of which have no basis as all.
“Manolo just needs to keep his cool and concentrate on his game, he is a strong player and he is just being rotated like everyone else.
“We consider him to be an excellent player and step by step he will get the rewards that he and we deserve,” he added. “If I get another question about Gabbiadini I will not answer, as much for his peace of mind as anything else.”
“He made a mistake and we all paid the consequences.”