Krzysztof Piatek burst onto the scene in Italy in relentless fashion – at one point seemingly scoring with every opportunity that presented itself. With 13 Serie A goals to his name, plus six in the Coppa Italia, the man brought in from Cracovia turned out to be one of the signings of the summer.
His start to the season was so good, the likes of Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona and Bayern Munich were all reportedly keeping tabs on him. A stellar list, which just shows how highly rated he is. However, it was Milan who managed to jump the queue – securing his services in January before any other side got a sniff.
Following Gonzalo Higuain’s underwhelming six-month stint at the club, the Rossoneri had a gap to plug. They required a goalscorer to maintain their hunt for Champions League qualification. Thus, they plumped for arguably the hottest prospect in Italian football.
And he didn’t disappoint on his full debut. Two expertly taken goals against Napoli secured Milan’s passage through to the semi-finals. He played with that unabashed confidence he was showing at Genoa. An assured start from the new man. Yet, in spite of an extremely positive introduction, could it still represent a gamble?
At a club which is of the stature of Genoa (no disrespect intended), with a small price tag, there was little-to-nothing expected from the 23-year-old when he arrived. He was an unknown entity, a bit of a punt. Consequently, he was able to take to the field in his first six months and enjoy himself; get to know the league without the millstone of expectation weighing him down.
However, it is a vastly different story now. With an ever-growing reputation being carved out, a substantial transfer fee on his head, and the pressure of playing for one of Europe’s biggest sides, there is suddenly far more hinging on him.
— ForzaItalianFootball (@SerieAFFC) January 29, 2019
Ok, he had a fantastic full debut, but only time will tell whether he can be that focal talisman. When you go through a barren spell at a club like Genoa it is understandable. But at a club the size of Milan, everything is magnified. It will be intriguing to see how he copes with this added pressure. It will be interesting to see whether he can keep hold of his youthful fearlessness, or whether it will be ground out of him by the higher demands.
Even though he is clearly talented, it is still difficult to gauge the true quality and potential of a player after just six months in a new league. The Rossoneri have put a lot of faith in Piatek not being a one season wonder (or make that half a season).
On his part, he took a gamble with his move to Milan, too. He could have chosen to remain at Genoa. After all, he had only been there six months, why not stay and keep developing? Allow yourself time to acclimatise to your new surroundings fully, away from a pressure cooker environment. Delay that big move until the summer. But the allure of Milan was evidently too strong.
Credit can go to him for having the self-belief to feel that he can go and be the number one striker at a club of that magnitude. With a flying start, the momentum can keep you afloat for a while, but things can also turn sour pretty quickly if you can’t maintain it.
So, as with most things in football, only time will tell. He certainly has all the hallmarks of a quality striker. Hopefully he can maintain his fantastic fearless attitude which typified his game at I Rossoblu. Hopefully he makes the step up. Hopefully he is afforded the patience and time to succeed.