Padraig Whelan Date: 5th April 2011 at 11:22pm
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Juventus striker Alessandro Matri has gone from strength to strength in the last few seasons and is once more showing what he is capable of this year. After getting the move to a big club he deserved in January, the striker has been in fine form for the Bianconeri so far, popping up with six goals in nine games. Matri, who moved to Turin from Cagliari on loan in January, has been clinical this season with 17 strikes in Serie A to his name in total.

Matri will have the option to join his new club permanently in the summer if Juve are prepared to fork out up to 15million Euros for his services. Blessed with great strength and a cool head in front of goal, he has certainly done enough to earn that contract so far and with the likes of Luca Toni and Vincenzo Iaquinta yet to hit form, Fabio Quagliarella on the injury list and Alessandro del Piero going to be another year older, it could yet prove to be one of the best pieces of businesses the Old Lady have done recently.

Likened to club legend Gigi Riva while at Cagliari after equalling his record of scoring in seven consectuive league games, Matri was idolised in Sardinia, and rightly so. The comparisons to Rombo di Tuono were laughed off by Matri though who said that “it is very nice but I am no Gigi Riva.” The 26 year-old has been rewarded for his excellent goalscoring exploits by being called up to the national squad for last month’s friendly against Ukraine. Typically, the striker bagged the clinching goal in a 2-0 win with a fine finish that flew in off the upright. The future certainly looks bright for Matri.

Matri finally got the move to a big club he deserved in January and has come a long way since his days as a Milan player in his youth. The man who was a Milan fan growing up received limited opportunities at the San Siro however and was soon farmed out on loan to gain experience. He scored goals without being prolific during spells as Prato, Lumezzane and Rimini and soon caught the eye of Cagliari. It was at the Sant’Elia where Matri was to peak having joined the islanders in June 2007. He linked up well with Robert Aquafresca in his first campaign and the two went on to score the majority of the side’s goals.

The striker found the going tougher the next year though as Jeda overtook him in the pecking order. The Brazilian was preferred to Matri in attack but, despite limited playing time, he still managed to hit an impressive six goals in just 11 starts. This kind of clinical finishing was a taster of what was to come for Cagliari fans as the next season was to be when Matri became a key man for the Rossoblu.

After Aquafresca left to join Genoa in the summer, Matri was given more playing time the next season alongside Jeda and new signing Nene. He responded to the Massimiliano Allegri’s confidence in his ability with some powerful performances, even against the bigger sides he didn’t look out of his depth and ended the season as the side’s top scorer with an impressive 13 goals as Cagliari finished 16th, a clear nine points above Atalanta in the relegation zone. Without Matri’s goals, it could have been a major struggle for Cagliari to survive.

And once again this season, Matri started in terrific form. Between September this season and his move to Juventus at the end of January, the new Azzurri striker hit an astonishing 11 goals in just 19 starts. It was this kind of goal-scoring that has led to his move to Turin. This career-changing move has given Matri the confidence to keep up his level of performance and possibly retain his place in La Nazionale.

 “Arriving at Juventus was a dream,” the forward said following his move. “It is the objective of every player to play for a big side and I am very happy. When one does well for their club they are considered for the national team and I am working hard to keep my place in his (Prandelli’s team).” If he continues to find the net for the Old Lady, then there is no reason why he cannot keep his spot for Italy and possibly fire Juventus into the Champions League. It is certainly a crucial stage in the career of Alessandro Matri and he is definitely a player worth keeping an eye on.

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