As the winter market approaches it is seemingly no secret that the Milan management are on the lookout for a deputy to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Many names have popped up in recent weeks as to who could potentially replace the super Swede moving forward too such as Gianluca Scamacca of Sassuolo and Luka Jovic of Real Madrid, but the solution is staring the Rossoneri right in the face, and his name is Andrea Belotti.
A boyhood fan of il Diavolo, Belotti has been linked with a move to Milan in the past but with a huge asking price having been set previously by Torino’s president Urbano Cairo, a deal was never done.
During the 2016-17 Serie A campaign Belotti netted an impressive 26 goals in 35 league appearances also providing four assists for his team-mates. The next couple of years he was not as prolific but still managed to hit double figures in the league, showing his knack for being a consistent goal scorer in a struggling side.
In the 2018-19 league season he led il Toro to an impressive seventh-placed finished with 15 Serie A goals, which sent them to the Europa league qualifiers the following year. Last season Torino avoided relegation by only five points, and a big part of that was thanks to Belotti who netted an important 16 goals for the Granta.
Once again, this season Torino have struggled and find themselves bottom of the pile under former Milan manager Marco Giampaolo. Despite their struggles, Belotti has notched an impressive nine goals and three assists in just 13 matches this season and has been directly involved in 54% of Torino’s goals.
18 & 14 – Since the restart of #SerieA in June, only Cristiano #Ronaldo (18) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (17) have scored more goals than Andrea #Belotti (14) in the top-flight. Derby.#JuventusTorino #DerbyDellaMole pic.twitter.com/qSQ4VFzKH1
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 4, 2020
Of course, all this is under the back drop of the European Championships as the Italian looks to fire his way into the national team in time for the tournament.
Overall, in his Serie A career he has an impressive 94 goals and 21 assists in 226 appearances which equates to a goal contribution every 1.96 games – a fantastic return considering the side he has played for.
So the numbers stack up, but what makes Belotti the right man to replace Ibrahimovic?
Well, Belotti has a great physical presence which allows him to boast excellent hold-up play, something that in turn creates space for others around him to run into. This is of course similar style to what Ibra does for Milan, which has allowed players like Calhanoglu and Rebic to flourish under Pioli’s system.
The Italian front man also poses a great aerial threat in and around the box, perfect for attacking the ball and flicking the ball in behind for the wide men to run on to.
When Ibra hangs up his boots or potentially gets less game time if he were to extend his contract for one more year, the Rossoneri will need a leader on the pitch, and Belotti fits the bill having captained the Turin side for the last few seasons.
Not only does his ability on the ball hold up well for Pioli’s approach, his off the ball work rate is fantastic too as he likes to press the opposition which has been one of the key reasons to Milan’s success this year.
A player with his capabilities and approaching the peak years of his career will surely be looking to move on especially considering the recent struggles his side has faced. The Euros as aforementioned are just around the corner, and Belotti will be chomping at the bit to continue this season’s good form to stake a place as Italy’s leading centre-forward come the summer.
His chances would increase playing in a top side and for a club in Europe, too. With just 18 months left on his current deal and with Torino battling for survival once again, a renewal looks unlikely and this winter could be the perfect time to strike, and if not next summer.
Il Toro’s president certainly won’t want to lose him on a free at the end of next season so his best chance of getting a good fee would be in one of the next two markets, presenting a perfect opportunity for Milan to pounce on what could be a steal of a deal.