Marek Hamsik has emerged as one of the brightest prospects in Serie A after a number of scintillating performances for Napoli.
Hamsik started his career with Slovakian side Slovan Bratislava but started only one game before Italian scouts were alerted of his promise. He moved to Brescia in 2004 as a 17-year-old for a fee of 500,000 euros and finished 19th in his first season as they were relegated from Serie A. Hamsik continued to play for the club in Serie B for two seasons, netting ten goals in 40 appearances in the 2006-07 campaign. In the summer of 2007, newly-promoted Serie A club Napoli announced they had signed Hamsik for 5.5 million euros on a five-year deal and he was the club's top scorer in his first two seasons.
Hamsik represented Slovakia at junior level, playing in the European Under-17 Championship qualifiers and the U-19 Championships. He also played for the Slovakian U-21 national team before making his debut for the full national team in 2007. Since then he has become Slovakia's most important player.
Strengths: For an attacking midfielder, Hamsik is physically strong but his greatest his asset is being in the right place at the right time. His anticipation, eye for a goal and ability to dictate play have led to comparisons with Paul Scholes.
Weaknesses: Defensively he is nowhere near as strong as he should be and on occasions doesn't track back.
Career High: Winning back-to-back Slovakian Young Player of the Year awards in 2007 and 2008.
Career Low: Suffering relegation with Brescia in his first season with the club.
Style: Offensive midfielder with an eye for a key pass and a key goal.
Quotes: "I got to know him at Brescia and I feel he is the strongest young midfielder around and he could become a great champion." West Ham director of football Gianluca Nani.
Trivia: Hamsik's football hero is Czech Republic legend Pavel Nedved.
ITALIAN SERIE B