Once one of Serie A’s most reliable goal-getters, Alberto Paloschi has struggled since leaving Chievo last year, and after 12 months of instability, might need another move to revitalise his career.
In January 2016, Swansea City moved to take Alberto Paloschi away from Chievo and Serie A, bringing the forward to the Premier League.
Just two games into his career in the United Kingdom, he was reunited with fellow Italian Francesco Guidolin as Swansea looked to the former Udinese coach to steer them away from relegation. Having previously worked together with Parma, where Paloschi found the net on 16 occasions, all signs pointed towards the AC Milan academy graduate becoming a prominent player under Guidolin in south Wales.
After just 10 games and two goals for the Swans, however, the striker opted to return to Italy in the summer, returning to his hometown of Bergamo with Atalanta.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s arrival at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia made it clear that the Nerazzurri would be making a change in their tactical setup for 2016-17, and many thought that Paloschi would go on to be the first choice forward, ahead of Andrea Petagna, Mauricio Pinilla, and Aleksandar Pesic.
Paloschi, with both Parma and Chievo, had proven himself to be a reliable and trustworthy go-to guy for goals for Serie A’s middling sides, and Atalanta supporters were justifiably excited to see their side sign a local player who has a proven track record.
Twenty-two games into the season, Paloschi’s homecoming has been nothing other than a disappointment. The 27-year-old has played just nine times for La Dea this season and is yet to find the net in this time. Of his nine appearances, just four of these have been from the start in Serie A, with four more from the bench and another appearance in the Coppa Italia.
Before departing for the Premier League a year ago, Paloschi had a respectable tally of eight goals from his 19 Serie A starts in 2015-16. Now without a goal on Italian soil since a 1-1 draw between Chievo and Empoli on January 17, 2016, Paloschi has hit something of a mid-career crisis.
For the Mussi Volanti, Paloschi thrived with a heavy weight of pressure on his shoulders, being the Veronese side’s main goal threat. More often than not, Chievo sought to keep things tight at the back and hope Paloschi and co. in attack could take care of business at the other end. Regularly, he delivered.
Atalanta started the season poorly, losing four of their opening five games. Paloschi started in three of these defeats, missing a penalty in a 3-0 loss to Cagliari, and when he was dropped to the bench, the Bergamaschi won 2-1 against Torino.
Andrea Petagna then became Gasperini’s first choice to lead the line and, with that, things took a turn for the Orobici. Petagna scored in successive wins over Crotone and Napoli and has since remained in the starting XI.
Since September 21, Paloschi has started just once for Atalanta in a 1-0 win over Pescara, making only two additional substitute appearances.
Though arguably a better player on the ball, Paloschi doesn’t offer as much to the team’s cohesion as 21-year-0ld Petagna. The latter might appear to be merely an out-and-out target man at first glance, but the youngster offers a number of options in attack, from his aerial presence to an ability and willingness to do the ugly side of a striker’s game.
Petagna comes deep in search of possession and is happy to operate in the wider channels, sacrificing himself and allowing Alejandro Gomez and Jasmin Kurtic to move into the space he has vacated.
Defensively, Petagna also offers more to the team. Constantly hassling defenders and never shy of a physical confrontation, his commitment to the cause is something that no doubt makes him an obvious pick in Gasperini’s starting XI each week.
For now, it appears as though Paloschi’s time on the pitch will remain limited, especially given how well Petagna works with star player Papu Gomez.
With the January window about to close it looks as though he is set to remain in Bergamo for the remainder of the season at least. If he is to rediscover his best form, however, a summer move might be needed for Paloschi to regain his confidence and to bring out the ability he has proven to possess in the past.