Euro 2016

Hamsik ready for 'a really big club': Kozak

Slovakia midfielder Marek Hamsik celebrating his goal against Russia. His national team coach Jan Kozak has tipped his star man to move on from Serie A side Napoli, who have become "too small for him".
Slovakia midfielder Marek Hamsik celebrating his goal against Russia. His national team coach Jan Kozak has tipped his star man to move on from Serie A side Napoli, who have become "too small for him".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LILLE • Slovakia coach Jan Kozak believes that Marek Hamsik, the orchestrator of his side's 2-1 Group B victory over Russia on Wednesday, has become such an outstanding player that he has outgrown his Italian Serie A club Napoli.

Hamsik, 28, played a sublime ball off his left foot for Vladimir Weiss to open the scoring, before curling home a beautiful strike with his right 12 minutes later, as Slovakia claimed all three points.

"Marek has matured as a person and as a player at Napoli," Kozak said, when asked if the midfielder could be one of the players of the tournament.

"But Napoli have become too small for him. I think he's ready to play for a really big club."

Hamsik was a threat throughout, using his clever passing and excellent close control to buy time for a defensive-minded Slovak side that nevertheless recorded their first European Championship victory.

Said Hamsik, whose side will face England in their final group game in Saint Etienne on Monday: "England are the favourites and I'm sure that it will be tougher than the two games we've played."

Meanwhile, his team-mate Martin Skrtel is set to end a successful eight-year career at Liverpool, after the Premier League club accepted a £7 million (S$13.4 million) bid from Turkish side Fenerbahce.

The 31-year-old defender started only four games for Jurgen Klopp after the turn of the year. While he had offers from Germany and China this summer, he has decided to relaunch his career with Fenerbahce, who finished second in the Turkish Super Lig last season.

The Reds signed Skrtel for £6.5 million from Zenit St Petersburg in January 2008. The Slovak made 320 appearances for the club.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2016, with the headline 'Hamsik ready for 'a really big club': Kozak'. Print Edition | Subscribe