Is Ciro Immobile’s move to Torino destined for failure?
Torino, a club desperately in need of goals, having lost star striker Rolando Bianchi this summer, looked to have pulled off something of a coup by bringing in a man who was once rated so highly during his time with Juventus’ Primavera side.
After all, this is a player who hit a hat-trick in the final of the prestigious Viareggio youth tournament and was named the Golden Boy of the competition. Immobile was also top scorer at that tournament with 10 goals, an all-time record.
He is also the highest ever goalscorer at that tournament with 14 goals across his two years participating in it. Therefore, the striker should represent a good signing for the Granata, because it is an important move for the player himself.
At 23-years-old, the time has now come for him to start living up to the potential that he displayed when he burst on to the scene at Viareggio with the Bianconeri. Immobile continued on and wet many mouths during his time in Serie B with Zdenek Zeman’s all-attacking, all-conquering Pescara.
Desperately disappointing was his spell last season with Genoa. Along with Marco Borriello, he was supposed to supply the strikes that would fire the Grifoni up the Serie A standings.
Instead, he misfired badly and as a result, his team were embroiled in a tense relegation battle. Of course, this was not solely down to Immobile who was dealing with the pressure of being a relied upon Serie A marksman for the first time in his career.
It did not go as planned whatsoever. In 33 appearances (albeit 21 of them were starts), he yielded just five goals for his side and only two of those helped his side pick up points at the end of the game.
Now he is coming into a Torino team where it is hard to see him having any more of an impact than he managed at the Marassi. A look at last season’s statistics of the two sides goes a long way to analysing how the Italian U-21 international may fare under Giampiero Ventura and his specialised 4-2-4 formation.
Much of Torino’s attacking football came either down the right through Alessio Cerci and his wing wizardry or through the middle of the field where they relied on Bianchi and Riccardo Meggiorini or Jonathas to cause problems. However, surprisingly for a team with such an attacking formation, just 23% of their play and possession last season was spent in the attacking third when compared with 26% for Genoa.
Small margins these may be, but football in the modern era is becoming increasingly scientific and studying these tiny percentages where a club can gain an advantage and capitalise on them can make all the difference. The Rossoblu also managed more shots on the opposition goal last season on average per game than Toro did despite players like Bosko Jankovic and Andrea Bertolacci flattering to deceive for much of the campaign.
So if Immobile, like his former teammates mentioned above, struggled to convert the scraps he received at the Marassi into goals, then how is he going to manage it in an atmosphere even more starved of chance creation?
It seems a bad move by all accounts, one that was cobbled together by Juventus in an attempt to appease their city rivals for taking one of the jewels of their crown in defender Angelo Ogbonna, a player worshiped at the Olimpico having come through the youth ranks there.
This is not the kind of signing that Torino fans should be welcoming although it would be a pleasure to be proven wrong by the 23-year-old if he can fire the goals in that will keep the Granata in the top-flight.
The simple solution in all of this would have been to keep Rolando Bianchi at the club, but that is another story for another time. However, all may not be lost for Torino and they can make this deal work if they adapt themselves to suit the side around Immobile which has not been something tried as yet during pre-season.
It would mean splashing out for another striker, because to cast an eye back over Immobile’s senior career, it was during his time with Pescara that he played the best football of his career.
Though an all-out attacking philosophy in Turin this season may be a complete mistake, but trying to replicate the kind of football that saw the player nab 28 goals in 37 appearances with Pescara may be the best thing Torino could do.
He thrived in that Delfini side by virtue of having a creative force supplying him the service he needed (something lacking at Genoa last season) in Marco Verratti. Cerci should be able to do something similar this season in Turin. However, he also had a wonderful attacking relationship with Lorenzo Insigne, benefiting from the Napoli man’s intelligence in creating space for Immobile with his movement as well as his unselfishness in front of goal.
This helped the now Torino forward rack up a respectable goal tally and if they can delve into the mercato and attempt to lure a similar player to Turin for this season it could prove a masterstroke in getting the best out of Immobile.
Sadly, this seems unlikely. Torino are tightening up the purse strings (showcased with the Ogbonna and Bianchi fiascoes) and players who could probably fill such a void like M’Baye Niang, Marco Sau or Pablo Barrientos would likely be deemed unfeasible targets.
It seems that the success or failure of the Immobile deal depends entirely on who, if anyone, follows him to Turin this summer. Though it seems there will probably be no one else joining the Granata to ease the pressure on the Italian this summer.