If there is a player in world football whose name is a walking contradiction to his stock, it’s that of a certain striker in Rome. A striker who has more goal contributions in all competitions than Kane, Agüero and Ronaldo, and as many as Messi. His name is Ciro Immobile, but he’s a man who is moving along just fine in his quest to prove his worth as one of the most reputable at his position in Europe.
The Lazio striker has been immense this season for the Italian capital club, scoring 31 goals in 31 games in all competitions while adding eight assists. His mercurial form this season follows up a 2016/17 campaign in which he 26 goals in all competitions as he helped Lazio get back into Europe and reach a Coppa Italia final. If anyone told you they saw this form coming when he returned to Serie A with the Biancoceleste two summers ago, they’d be lying.
The first Italian player to score a hat-trick in the Europa League.
The first Italian player to score a hat-trick in Europe since 2007.
The first Lazio player to score 30+ goals in a season in over two decades.
More goals + assists than Kane, Salah and Ronaldo. pic.twitter.com/tHXUZ2fZZP
— bet365 (@bet365) February 22, 2018
Only Neymar has been directly involved in goals more in Europe’s top five leagues than Immobile, again outlining the elite company he has found himself in this term. Yet, no one really considers him to be elite like his compatriots. Why is that you ask?
For one, the simple fact is he’s not as good as they are. He’s not in the same ballpark in terms of ability as a Neymar or Messi, isn’t an all-around striker like El Kun and hasn’t proven his deadliness in front of goal year in, year out like Harry. Immobile is a very solid striker, don’t get it twisted. Since debuting at the Stadio Olimpico, we’ve seen a more clinical, confident and aware (though he does tend to stray offside quite a bit), Immobile who involves himself in play a bit more. He’s not particularly good in the air or a good dribbler, but he usually finds himself in the right place at the right time. And that’s been enough to carry his club as Lazio aim to return to the Champions League group stage for the first time in 11 years.
The biggest reason, however, why he isn’t considered to be one of the top marksmen in the game is because we’ve seen this movie before to some degree. There are holes in Immobile’s résumé, big holes. After failing to make the grade at Juventus and bouncing around in Serie B, Immobile finally found a home with Juventus’ arch-rivals, Torino in 2013. In Turin, everything started to click, for one season anyway. But what a season it was. He won the Capocannoniere, leading Serie A with 22 goals as he helped Torino finish seventh and eventually take Parma’s spot in the Europa League following Parma’s much-publicised financial woes.