Juventus lost a bit of ground at the top end of the Serie A table this past week.
Serie A is in a peculiar situation regarding the young strikers: most of them have already managed to either become household names or centrepieces of top clubs, so it would be unfair to label them “upcoming”. This applies to players such as Paulo Dybala, Mauro Icardi and Andrea Belotti, whose superstar status makes you forget that they are so young. André Silva has not left a distinct mark in the league yet, but he is already at Milan.
On the other hand, teams like Sampdoria, Chievo Verona, Udinese, Sassuolo, Bologna, Genoa, Benevento, Crotone and Spal this year are featuring strikers that no longer can be defined young. Therefore, there is not a real crop of exciting upcoming strikers in Serie A and the only real candidate for this definition: Giovanni Simeone, Andrea Petagna and Moise Kean. Atalanta’s forward is a useful player, but his lack of scoring prevents him from getting the nod. Kean is freakishly young: he will be a star, but he has been hit-or-(mostly)miss so far. He is a product of Juventus’ youth system.
Giovanni Simeone’s rise in Italy has been extremely quick. He joined Genoa in 2016 to be Leonardo Pavoletti’s back-up, and a future opportunity to make a profit on a relatively cheap buy, but the injuries of the Italian striker allowed him to play a ton in his first season. Despite a lengthy slump in the Winter, caused also by problems outside of the pitch that can affect a youngster, he was a solid contributor, scoring 12 goals in 35 appearances.
His determination and fierceness in the box is evident; he is an artist in the air, despite being relatively tiny: he is so cunning in getting open and he capable of contorting his body in ways that allow him to always hit precise and powerful headers. The goal against Roma is yet another display of this innate, Filippo Inzaghi-esque ability. He is a delight for crossers.
Due to a domino of strikers, he joined Fiorentina very late and this put him behind the eight ball. Stefano Pioli immediately relied heavily on him, but the combinations with his teammates have not been on point to start the season and the feeling was that he was playing a little too much on his own: he scored only once in the first six matches. However, these things improve over time and he has now developed into the weapon Viola expect him to be: he found the bottom of the net thrice in the last month and, perhaps more importantly for his development, he has dished three assists.
Combining with others is the area Simeone needs to improve in order to become an all-around forward, but he is making strides there and can be helped by a natural above-average technique. Coaches always praised him for his will and his hard-work and he has expanded his game a lot since he first moved to Italy. With a better supporting cast, he might crack 20 goals in this or in the next couple of seasons. Fiorentina has been a launching pad for great players in the past, El Cholito might be the next to join the esteemed list.
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