After Italy’s woeful Brazilian World Cup display, scoring a paltry two goals in 270 minutes worth of action, it is encouraging to see the excitement surrounding young strikers Simone Zaza and Ciro Immobile on the international scene.
The disappointing and frankly troublesome elimination at the group stage, not only forced a change in coach after the tournament, but also in focus with regards to which players should now be entrusted in rebuilding the relationship between the team and fans.
With the apparent failure of the so called proven talent such as Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and the often crocked Giuseppe Rossi, the future of Azzurri goal scoring is already in better shape than it was three months ago with the aforementioned Zaza and Immobile.
But one other talent has started to emerge, impressing not only at club but also the minor international levels of the game. Andrea Belotti, the Palermo forward that wears the number 99, has found that goal scoring is not as difficult as previous Italian strikers have found it to be.
The much lamented lack of Italian youth getting playing time at top Serie A sides, the huge numbers of foreign imports and the state of stadia in the Peninsula are problems that the Italian Football Federation may struggle to address.
But in Zaza, Immobile and now Belotti, the potential future of scoring goals is one dilemma they need not concern themselves with.
The young striker from Bergamo has, in a short space of time, proven his finishing skills with only two full seasons to his name. Originally owned by AlbinoLeffe, where he notched 14 goals in 37 games as a teenager, he was loaned out to Sicilian side Palermo in Serie B last year.
In 24 matches, ‘Il Gallo’, as he is affectionately known (the Rooster), repaid the club’s faith by scoring ten goals and helping his new employers achieve promotion.
His impact was immediate, providing an assist on his debut and then notching his first goal in his subsequent appearance, both after coming on as a sub. It doesn’t take long for Belotti to find his feet (usually wrapped inside a pair of scoring boots).
His Italy appearances have been just as impressive with 12 goals scored in 25 games at U19 through to U21 level.
Only recently he was instrumental in Luigi Di Biagio’s Azzurrini side overturning a 2-0 deficit against Serbia, scoring twice as the Italians eventually won 3-2, keeping alive their hopes of qualifying for the European Championships in 2015.
Another goal in the 7-1 mauling of Cyprus ensured Belotti has the opportunity of featuring in the Czech Republic next year, further increasing his exposure to high level football.
So, what makes ‘Il Gallo’ such an exciting prospect? How is he different to other hopefuls who promised so much but as yet failed to deliver? Players such as Manolo Gabbiadini, Alberto Paloschi and even Lorenzo Insigne to name but three.
In short, the Palermo front-man blends the attributes of a classic ‘prima punta’ with that of the support striker.
His size and strength would point to him being an old fashioned Luca Toni style target man. However, to use an unavoidable cliché, ‘he has great feet for a big man’. To qualify this often over used statement, Belotti is happy to drift into wide areas as well as drop deep to find the ball and become provider and offer the support to his fellow forwards.
In short he is comfortable in all areas of the striking department making him a difficult prospect to defend. Ally that to his incredible accuracy in and around the 18 yard box and you have the recipe for a goal machine.
It is still very early days for the 20-year-old. He is already finding space in the starting line-up with the Rosaneri difficult to come by, as Argentine Paulo Dybala is currently preferred up front.
However, when the Sicilians undoubtedly begin to struggle finding points and goals over the course of the season, whoever is entrusted with coaching the side owned by trigger-happy owner Maurizio Zamparini, may well choose to give Belotti the faith and room to turn the side’s fortunes around.
He has succeeded to find the net on a regular basis at every level he has already competed within, why should the step up to Serie A be any different?
Italian football has certainly got a raft of seemingly insurmountable issues to overcome, but to twist a lyric borrowed from the world of Rap music, with Andrea Belotti around, scoring goals ain’t one.
Follow Enzo on Twitter: @enzom_fif