Gianluca Scamacca has impressed at Genoa, where he’s on loan from Sassuolo. The Italy U21 striker is big in size, technical, and reminds you of a certain Milan start at a young age – which brings you to the question: could he be the ideal deputy to Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
As Zlatan pulled his hamstring against Napoli and is out for several weeks, the natural question arises: how will Milan replace him? Short term there is Ante Rebic, Rafael Leão, Lorenzo Colombo, or even Brahim Diaz. But none of those players fit the Ibrahimovic mould in terms of size, technique, a nightmare to face in duels, creative and with a natural eye for goal.
A case could be made for Colombo as he’s big, strong, and has a predator instinct that has been shown in the Primavera. But at the same time, he’s 18-years-old and needs experience, game time, and more confidence. So who could fill the Ibra role long term?
One name that Milan have scouted and been extensively linked with is Gianluca Scamacca. Many probably know how Scamacca is, but for those who don’t, here’s a quick summary.
Scamacca is an Italian striker born in 1999, making him 21 years of age. He’s originally from Rome and has spent time at both the Lazio and Roma academies before moving to PSV Eindhoven.
However, he just spent one year in the Netherlands before Sassuolo signed him to their Primavera. Since then he’s been a journeyman, having played on loan at Cremonese, Zwolle, Ascoli and currently, he’s on loan at Genoa.
His strengths as a player are his technique, his movement, his natural scoring instinct, his size (195cm), and his speed. Scamacca is very skilled at progressing the ball forwards by carrying it and going past the opposition with dribbles or his physique.
He can score both from inside and outside the box, as he has the movement and anticipation of a target man inside the box and the heavy shot and technical abilities to operate well in the penalty box region.
So why would he be an ideal Ibrahimovic deputy?
To begin with, Scamacca is a very similar player profile to Zlatan. The way he carries himself in the final third, the way he thinks, how he uses his size to his own and the team’s benefit, and the focus he attracts due to his dangerous presence around the box.
Scamacca has great hold-up play due to his size and his awareness of how to use his size and body strength to his best advantage. Long balls can be focused on him, which he can hold on to until his teammates manage to get into position or lift the team.
One additional dimension Scamacca brings – which Ibrahimovic doesn’t have – is his speed. After holding up play, he can join in the attacks by taking runs deep into the channels. That gives a bigger numerical advantage in the box when a cross arrives or it can free up space for his teammates as the defenders have to follow Scamacca’s movement.
But the hold-up playing and bringing a big physical presence into the final third is perhaps what’s most important for an Ibrahimovic deputy – and that is something Scamacca adds just by being on the pitch.
This season, Scamacca has scored six goals and made one assist in seven games for Genoa. In total, he’s scored nine goals in his last nine games for club and country. But the point isn’t that he can provide goals in form of scoring or assisting, it’s that he can do it on Serie A level.
Before, Scamacca has roamed the Serie B with Ascoli and Cremonese. But this season he’s actually shown that he’s able to deliver on the highest level. Most recently, he scored two goals to complete Genoa’s remontada to win in Derby della Lanterna and advance in Coppa Italia.
However, he is by no means is the finished article yet. He has weaknesses like all young players. For Scamacca it’s mainly his concentration and focus that needs improving. But, what better place to improve that than at Milan? Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not let anything slide, nor will Stefano Pioli. He will have no other choice than to fix it.
Looking into it further, what he can perhaps benefit most from is how to perfect his own playing style alongside someone like Ibrahimovic who’s played at the highest level for 20 years – and is still killing it.
A deal for Scamacca won’t be easy, though. At the moment he’s currently on loan at Genoa until the end of the season, and the better he does there, the bigger a potential fee will be. Adding to that, Francesco Caputo isn’t getting any younger at Sassuolo and they don’t really have a player profile like Scamacca either.
Not to mention that money is not tight in Sassuolo, as they earn more from their main shirt sponsor than Milan does, for example. So they’ll like want to hold onto their jewel tight.
If Milan feel they could find an agreement over Scamacca, they shouldn’t hesitate to go for him. He fits the recruitment strategy; a young player being on the verge of establishing himself.
He has tremendous potential, with the right people at Milan to help him fulfill that potential. Most importantly, he’d bring new dimensions to Pioli’s team and could fill the Ibra-role in the long run. In the meanwhile, he’ll make an excellent Zlatan deputy.