You’d expect a player with more league goals than Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero and Robert Lewandowski to be getting all the headlines. Yet this isn’t the case for Ciro Immobile, whose explosive 2017/18 season is going somewhat under the radar.
The Italian hitman has 20 goals in Serie A. Only Harry Kane has found the back of the net on more occasions across Europe’s top five leaves this term. But Immobile’s goals per game record is better than the Tottenham Hotspur poster boy.
Perhaps that’s because he’s remembered by many for his ill-fated stint with Borussia Dortmund as the Bundesliga outfit looked to replace Lewandowski in the summer of 2014.
His one season in Germany yielded seven goals in 1,359 minutes. A drop off from the 22 he scored for Torino the season prior. He was loaned to Sevilla ahead of the 2015/16 season and though he didn’t set the league alight they exercised their option to purchase him for €14million, with Dortmund making a €4million loss. The La Liga side loaned him to Torino for the second half of that campaign and he bagged five in 14.
This form in Italy lead to Lazio parting with just under €9million to bring him to Rome in the summer of 2016. And it’s in the Eternal City that he’s found a new lease of life.
He finished the 2016/17 campaign with a career high 23 goals in Serie A, his highest before then was for Torino (22) back in 2013/14. For Pescara, playing in Serie B, he found the net on 28 occasions but it’s a lower level.
The Lazio No.17 also netted a double in the Supercoppa Italiana final victory over Juventus to give Simeone Inzaghi his first trophy as a manager.
Immobile showed, however, that his performances last season weren’t a flash in the pan. He was the first player in Europe to score 20 league goals this term and became the first Lazio forward since Giuseppe Signori to score 20 league goals in two consecutive seasons.
Serie A is the most competitive it’s been for quite some time but Lazio find themselves in third position, ahead of the likes of Inter Milan, AC Milan and Roma. They’re just seven points behind Juventus and eight points off the top.
What’s even more remarkable is the fact they’re the fourth highest scorers in Europe. They’ve scored two more goals than Liverpool and sit behind only Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and are one goal shy of Barcelona.
Immobile isn’t the sole reason for the club’s surprise climb up the table. Former Liverpool player Luis Alberto has been a revelation in Rome since his move in the summer and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Juventus.
Top European clubs are keeping a close eye on goings on at the Stadio Olimpico. Which is what makes it all the more surprising that none of them are seemingly prepared to make a move for the Italian forward.
You can see in the graphic above that his numbers are more than just impressive. He’s averaging over a goal per 90 minutes. His xG90 is coming in at 0.86, higher than Kane (0.78), Maurco Icardi (0.65) and Falcao (0.66).
What Immobile does is an art. It’s not by chance that he manages to find himself in high quality areas on a regular basis. Goal getting is the key to sustaining goal scoring. After all, If you’re doing the latter without the former the well will soon run dry.
The bottom stat on the graphic is xG Ratio which looks at how many goals a player is scoring for every one xG. It’s a way of showing which players are making the most of their chances.
In a recent feature on the Football Whispers website, we looked at the most clinical strikers in Europe with 11 goals or more. Immobile ranked higher than Messi, Lewandowski, Kane and Mohamed Salah.
How does Immobile compare to Europe’s elite?
The simple answer to this is pretty well. We compared him alongside some of Europe’s best No.9s and he more than holds his own.
He’s scored more goals per 90 than Kane, Lewandowski and Edinson Cavani, all of whom play in better teams. His overall xG might be the lowest but his xG90 puts him in second position. In terms of xG Ratio he’s a clear winner.
It’s clear that Immobile has something about him. He’s an all-round forward and in a game in which goals are currency he’s money in the bank. He’s 28 years old next month but that shouldn’t put clubs off. After all, Aubameyang is 29 years old at the end of the current season and Arsenal are prepared to pay €70million for him.
Furthermore, it’s clear he’s always had an impressive profile. He just needed a club to help him flourish. Sevilla can spot a player and have made a business out of it while while Dortmund know how to identify individuals with huge potential. Both took a punt on Immobile and that says a lot.
He’s remembered as the player who failed at Dortmund but context is needed. He joined them during a transitional period. They lost Lewandowski and Jürgen Klopp‘s time was coming to an end. It’s unfair to judge him on that alone and instead clubs should be viewing him as the player with 43 goals in 55 appearances.
He could well be the difference between Champions League qualification and a genuine title challenge for a number of teams.