Andrea Belotti is one of the hottest properties in Serie A at the moment, and with good reason, but what about the prospect of seeing him in a Rossoneri shirt?
The Torino striker has amassed an impressive 10 league goals in 11 appearances so far in the 2016/17 campaign, and is now attracting interest from some of the biggest clubs in Europe.
All this at the ripe age of just 22 – and the upward trajectory that Belotti has shown since bursting onto the scene has even resulted in international recognition, even leading some to believe he is the man to lead Italy’s forward line for the foreseeable future.
The Calcinate-born striker began his career as a youth player at Gorlago and the Grumellese, and was consequently signed by Serie B side UC AlbinoLeffe, despite having a trial at Atalanta.
After bagging 15 goals over his first two seasons at the Primavera side of the Bergamo-based club, Belotti made the progression to the first team for the 2011/12 season, scoring twice. However, the club were relegated, and he played the next season in the third tier of Italian football, scoring 12 goals in the league.
That caused Palermo, who were in Serie B at the time, to swoop for Belotti – still a teenager at this point. He would score 10 league goals that season and help spearhead the Sicilians’ promotion charge back to the top flight, where in the 2014-15 he amassed a combined eight goals and assists.
On 18 August 2015 he was officially signed by Torino for a fee of €7.5million, and announced his name on the big stage with a his first goal in Serie A for Torino in a 2–0 win against Bologna on November 28, and went on to score 12 goals for the club last season.
This season has been his major breakthrough so far, with four goals in the first two matchdays, including one at San Siro as Milan beat Il Toro 3-2 in the opening game.
That’s not even mentioning the fact Belotti has scored three goals in his first five appearances for Italy. It is all proof that he is capable of producing at any level.
Now, the man nicknamed Il Gallo (the rooster) is being linked with a host of big clubs, including Manchester United, Chelsea and champions Leicester City.
There are talks of an £80million release clause, but encouragingly also reports that Milan CEO Adriano Galliani has held talks with his agent Sergio Lancini, while Galliani’s own future with the Diavolo looks to be coming to an end.
The future of Belotti is a huge indicator of the future of Torino. What they are building in Turin is a young Italian core consisting of players that compliment the striker brilliantly, such as Daniele Baselli, Marco Benassi, Adem Ljajic and Davide Zappacosta.
If they can manage to hold onto those players, they may even be able to achieve more than their current seventh place standing suggests they are capable of. In a way, it is refreshing to see another team alongside Milan with a similar youth-based recruitment policy; a testament to Sinisa Mihajlovic for his work at both clubs.
However, back to the Rossoneri, a club desperately in need of a long-term solution to their striker problem. None can deny that the core, similar to Torino, is exciting – graced by the presence of Italian youth such as Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alessio Romagnoli, Mattia de Sciglio and Manuel Locatelli; assisted by the dynamic players such as Suso, M’Baye Niang and Juraj Kucka.
The optimist would say the potential is endless, but every project has holes that need addressing, like it or not.
The fact is, Carlos Bacca is not the long-term man to lead the front three. On his day, the Colombian is one of the best finishers in Europe, but at the age of 30 those days are limited and may be shortened further by his ambitions for instant silverware.
Gianluca Lapadula, signed from Pescara in the summer, is also not yet considered up to scratch for a club with Champions League aims, while the prospect of playing Niang up front would currently cause issues with the squad’s already paper-thin wing depth.
That’s where Mr Belotti steps in. An iconic era under Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani looks set to end next month, but the legacy they have left is unquestionable. Countless trophies and amazing memories, and now a squad full of potential to work with.
Galliani, work your magic just one more time, and complete the jigsaw by bringing Belotti to the San Siro.