The list of great Italian strikers who have graced the Premier League is mightily impressive. Fabrizio Ravanelli; Gianfranco Zola; Paolo Di Canio; Gianluca Vialli; Benito Carbone. That’s one hell of a 5-a-side team that would score for fun with every goal a picturesque gem. Throw on Massimo Maccarone as a super-sub and you’re even more in business.
Where the problem lies, however, is that beyond the rarefied elite there doesn’t appear to be a middle-ground before you get to the flops and the dross. And if such a middle-ground does exist it’s entirely populated by the divisive Mario Balotelli.
The roll-call of forwards from the peninsula who have arrived to our shores with high regard and left as a failure is a very long and disconcerting one and takes in the likes of Vincenzo Montella, the ‘Little Aeroplane’ who elsewhere was brilliant and prolific, scoring 54 in 83 appearances for Sampdoria and 84 in 132 for Roma, but at Fulham the 20-cap Italy international was rarely less than ineffective.
The same goes too for *deep breath* Rolando Bianchi; Fabio Borini; Michele Padovano; Marco Borriello; Pierluigi Casiraghi; Corrado Grabbi; Simone Zaza: and Bernardo Corradi.
Trust us, there are more, plenty more, but let’s stick with these. Collectively the aforementioned names – who at times in their career represented some of the best Serie A has to offer – made 227 appearances between them in the English top flight and scored just 29 goals. That equates to a little short of a goal every eight games, a ratio perhaps expected of a centre-back who is decent at getting head head on the end of set pieces.
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For whatever reason – the most commonly held theory being the slower pace of Italian football in comparison to its equivalents abroad – the empirical evidence shows that should a Premier League club sign a striker whose name ends in a vowel, they are either going to be extremely good (unlikely) or a bit rubbish (much more likely).
Enter stage left into this paradigm 21-year-old Patrick Cutrone. After coming through the AC Milan ranks the hot-shot from Como had long been considered a bright hope for the Rossoneri. Ten goals in his break-out season in Serie A marked him out as a pure number nine blessed with raw strength and a natural eye for an opportunity.
His second full season saw the goals dry up but that had little impact on his reputation or trajectory. In March of last year he made his international bow, which heralds a dazzling future for the Azzurri too.
Check out the reaction to Wolves’ first European game since the ’80s in the video below…
It came as something of a surprise, then, when Wolves swooped for one of the most fancied strikers on the continent last week for an equally surprising sum of just £16m.
“Patrick is an exciting signing,” the club’s sporting director Kevin Thelwell said with some understatement. “We are very pleased to have a player of Patrick’s ability join the club.”
It will help Cutrone that he will probably play second fiddle initially to Raul Jimenez, who fired home 13 goals and made 7 assists last term in Wolves’ terrific return to the big time. All the better to acclimatise to the faster pace of our game. To get settled in.
It will help too that in Nuno Espirito Santo the young forward will have a coach with a fine track record of assimilating players from different cultures into the focused collective of an English side and all told the prospect of Patrick Cutrone proving a success at Molineux is high.
The concern, however, is the same could have been said for Corradi, Zaza, Grabbi and the others and for now at least the Premier League’s curse on Italian strikers continues.