After some underwhelming performances with Italy, Ciro Immobile is in the spotlight, so Football Italia looks at five possible alternatives for Roberto Mancini.
Immobile has had a brilliant start to the season, with Lazio scoring four goals in the opening two Serie A games of the season. However, similarly to what has happened during entire his career, he failed to replicate the same performances at an international level.
Immobile didn’t score in Italy’s back to back draws against Bulgaria and Switzerland and although Roberto Mancini seems to trust his striker, there are some alternatives he will consider for the next few games, perhaps starting from Wednesday when the Azzurri host Lithuania at Reggio Emilia’s Mapei Stadium.
Andrea Belotti was the backup striker at the Euros, but Il Gallo sustained an injury at the beginning of the international break, so he is currently out of action. However, despite having been Torino‘s best player for the last few years, he scored more than 20 goals in a single Serie A campaign only once in his career, in 2016-17, when Torino renewed his contract with a €100m release clause.
The likes of Moise Kean, Gianluca Scamacca and Giacomo Raspadori are the other centre forwards included in the Azzurri squad by Mancini for the games against Bulgaria, Switzerland and Lithuania and quite frankly, they seem the be the most credible options for the future as well, with Qatar 2022 just around the corner.
Only Raspadori collected a few minutes in the first two games against Bulgaria and Switzerland, but even if the Sassuolo starlet is one of the most exciting prospects of Italian football, he has little experience, especially at an international level.
The 21-year-old made his senior Azzurri debut during the Euros, so it’s hard to believe he can be the candidate to replace Immobile permanently in the near future. Kean has more international experience, but he is not a classic centre forward and Mancini left him out of the Azzurri squad at Euro 2020, bringing Raspadori instead.
Scamacca can be an interesting option but, yet again, we are talking about an interesting prospect who has yet to make his senior debut with the Azzurri. Scorer of nine goals in 15 appearances with the U21 squad, the Sassuolo starlet, could make his debut against Lithuania on Wednesday.
The Rome-born hitman is a classic centre forward, capable of scoring goals and keep the ball up front to ease the opponents’ pressure and create space for his teammates. It will be interesting to see how he can adapt to Mancini’s football after scoring 12 goals in 29 appearances in all competitions on loan at Genoa last term.
Mancini would make a completely different pick by playing either Lorenzo Insigne or Nicolò Zaniolo as a false 9 against Lithuania.
Il Mancio has already used a forward who moves towards the ball in a deeper position, even during the Euros. In the second half of the Final against England, he used Insigne as a centre forward and Zaniolo could do exactly the same, making the most of his physical and technical skills. The versatile Roma starlet can play in many different roles in the final third and Mancini already tried him up front for the last 30 minutes against Switzerland on Sunday.
Based on his performance at Lazio, Immobile seems to be the most reliable option for Mancini, but with just 15 goals in 54 games with the Azzurri, his lack of form with the national team is a matter of concern and Mancini must deal with it. Perhaps, Immobile is no more untouchable for the Italian CT. Surely, Il the coach has a few alternatives in mind for the next few games.