Ciro Immobile is the best Striker in Serie A

See, Immobile, now 29, was once spoken of as the next superstar back when he was plucked from Sorrento’s academy by Juventus in 2008.

The signs were good. He had scored over 30 goals playing for Sorrento’s under-17s and a move to Juventus appeared an excellent step. After all, it was a sign that his career was going in the right direction; everything in place for him to flourish.

There were very high hopes for him. Juventus had signed him on the recommendation of Ciro Ferrara, the former Napoli and Juventus defender.

There was a grand introduction, too. Immobile made his debut for Juventus in March 2009 when he came on in the 89th minute, replacing Alessandro Del Piero in attack.

What should have been symbolic – the start of something special, replacing old with new – was short lived. Claudio Ranieri had given Immobile a glimpse but the striker wasn’t ready to go any further.

It would take a few more months until he got another chance to showcase his talent in November. 

He played in the Champions League against Bordeaux and made two more appearances in Serie A. Now 20, it was time for him to get serious after only four outings for the first team in two seasons. 

In 2012, after loan spells at Siena, Grosseto and Pescara, Juventus lost faith in Immobile and he left. 

Great hopes and expectations gone. A troubled period followed although goals did start to flow just not at the level he had intended when he moved to Juventus. 

It is the same ‘journey’ Immobile speaks of that has led him to this point where he feels his confidence has finally returned.

That it has taken so long for him to get his confidence back gives you an idea of just how low it got for Immobile. 

A major problem has been how badly he has settled at clubs. At Borussia Dortmund he complained about not having support ‘for him and his family’. 

He craves attention and has to feel loved. The trouble is when you aren’t an elite level player such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar the support only lasts so long. 

For Immobile, his stock may well have started high but it crashed once he left Juventus. 

He has been trying to build it back up ever since. It is now at the highest level it has ever been at Lazio and it’s rising and rising. Yet while it is high and still rising it’s difficult to put a finger on something special that Immobile has done. 

It’s not like Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane, Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski or Edinson Cavani. You know them, they are household names, and more than likely have done something that sticks in your mind.

Immobile just hasn’t done that. Incredibly, though, his statistics tell the story of a highly effective striker who is in the form of his career. In fact, he has been in the form of his career for the last three seasons. 

His return in Serie A since 2016 is astonishing. 2016/17: 23 goals in 36 games. 2017/18: 29 in 33. 2018/19: 15 in 36. This season: seven in seven – and don’t forget the two assists he’s also provided.

Seventy-four goals in 112 matches or 1.51 every game. It is ratio that betters that of some of the former strikers who have graced Serie A. Think Filippo Inzaghi, Hernan Crespo and Del Piero. Immobile’s return is better.

You don’t even need to look at back in time to make a case for him as he’s also the most potent striker in Italy.

He doesn’t have the profile of Ronaldo or Romelu Lukaku but he is posting better numbers. Ronaldo has scored just three goals in six league games while Lukaku has a return of three in seven.

You wonder whether he doesn’t have the profile of those mentioned because he doesn’t fully believe in himself.

Not backing himself to score or believing he will be the last defender, more how highly he rates himself and where he feels he sits in the pecking order of the world’s best players.

When Ronaldo moved from Real Madrid to Juventus, Immobile was asked about having someone else to challenge for the league’s top scorer after he finished joint-highest with Mauro Icardi on 29 for the 2017/18 season.

Tellingly, he said: ‘When Ronaldo was confirmed at Juventus, I thought: ‘Thank God I had time to win the Silver Boot last year. 

‘It will be very difficult to face him, both in the field and in the race for the best scorer. He won the prize many times and will try to repeat in Italy.’

Not the sort of comment you would expect from somebody who firmly believes he should be viewed as one of the best in the game.

But more and more as the years have gone in, it has become clear that Immobile just isn’t arrogant, bullish or in any way egotistical. Yet the numbers are there. Yes, he may not have a long time left in front of him but this is a period in his career in which he has been able to find a sense of stability.

There is, however, a nagging issue in the background which could be the reason for Immobile moving on in January. Immobile was understandably not happy when he was substituted in last month’s game against Parma. 

He was fined and has apologised but it leaves open the possibility of him moving on when the transfer window reopens despite how close he is with head coach Simone Inzaghi.

In both scenarios Immobile wins. Should he leave then he would be guaranteed a move and no doubt a pay rise and should he stay he continues to do be adored by the Lazio fans.

What is most fascinating now is for the first time he is in full control of his destiny. He can make the choices and push in whatever direction he wants and 10 years ago at Juventus that wasn’t possible. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: