Serie A has long been known for allowing the longevity of its starts due to its more laid-back style and there is no exception when it comes to seasoned star, Fabio Quagliarella.
The Sampdoria goal-getter, who turned 39 in January, has been knocking around since making his top-flight debut for Torino in season 1999/2000 and has certainly chipped in with his fair share of goals, not only in Serie A but also in Italy’s second and third tiers before establishing himself at the very top.
Over 20 years later and Quagliarella’s Serie A return stands at an impressive 180 goals in 525 appearances, placing him 13th on the all-time scorers list, just four goals behind Gabriel Batistuta; not too shabby.
Eight goals, then, is the distance between the Blucerchiati forward and the next three legends on the list – Alberto Gilardino, Alessandro Del Piero and Giuseppe Signori – who all occupy 9th place on 188 each. Should Quagliarella manage 10 more Serie A strikes then he’d reach Kurt Hamrin in 8th spot in the standings.
In fact, the Campania-born forward recently achieved the milestone of 100 goals in a Sampdoria shirt with his brace against Empoli on February 19, but the bittersweet was the fact that those two goals had tripled the striker’s tally for the season – an unusually low return at that stage.
Naturally, age is likely to catch up with us all at some point and perhaps sooner still when it comes to professional sportsmen and women as the level required to churn out top performances at the highest level becomes ever more demanding in a day and age where professionals are making their bows earlier and at much younger ages than in the past.
So, are three goals in 25 Serie A appearances the beginning of the end for Fabio Quagliarella and will he make it onto the top-10 goal-scorers table? It’s certainly the season in which he is, or was – up until Manolo Gabbiadini’s injury – being used slightly more sparingly, especially under Roberto D’Aversa at the beginning of the season.
The casing point being his exclusion from the Derby della Lanterna last December when Gabbiadini and summer signing, Francesco Caputo, were selected as the strike pairing in La Doria’s 3-1 win, while Quagliarella watched on from the bench.
Now though, with Marco Giampaolo back at the helm, Quagliarella could have it in him to give it one last push towards double figures in the last nine games of the season with his side also knees-deep in a relegation battle.
Always in double digits
When it comes to double digits the 2018/2019 Capocannoniere is no stranger at all. It was an impressive 26 goals in 37 starts – under Giampaolo’s wing – that saw Quagliarella crowned winner of Serie A’s top-scorer trophy that season but breaking into double figures seems to have become a given for the silky forward.
Forever the entertainer, one goal will stand out in the mind forever more when his best season is concerned. Sampdoria played host to Napoli in September 2018 at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris and with Doria somewhat unexpectedly 2-0 to the good, up stepped Quagliarella.
Even by the standards of the man who doesn’t get bad goals, this one was special. A Gaston Ramirez free-kick was blocked before falling to the feet of Bartosz Bereszynski who swung in a cross only for Quagliarella to pull off the inexplicable – a sort of backheel volley, facing away from goal, that flew into the corner leaving fans a agasp, hands-on-heads in Curva Sud to seal a 3-0 win; unreal.
Anyway, six of the last eight season’s have seen the striker finish the season with more than 10 goals, including the above mentioned in which Quagliarella was some sort of freak when everything he touched turned to goals, spectacular and all. The last season in which he failed to hit 10 was the season in which he made a mid-season switch from Torino to Sampdoria in 2015/16, finishing with eight in total in Serie A that year.
The following seasons saw him register 12, 19, 26, 11 and then 13 goals last season, yet now he’s stuck on a mere three goals and perhaps struggling to get to grips with a league that’s trying its best to adapt faster style. That being a generalisation and is with the exception of a few clubs and set-in-their-way coaches that continue to deploy good, old typically Italian defensive formations.
With 40 around the corner and a contract that expires in the summer of 2022, will Quagliarella fade out just before hitting the top-10, never to be seen by the Googlers of ‘Serie A all-time-top-scorers’ in a not-too-distant future, or will he make a comeback and etch his name into folklore?
One thing is for certain and it’s that Sampdoria could definitely use a few more from him, and if it is to be his last season for Sampdoria then the possibility of seeing the club retain it’s Serie A status – potentially at the expense of Genoa – would see Quagliarella bow out in style with a tag of immortality in the colours Blucerchiati.