The Race to the Capocannoniere

Capocannoiere | FI

The Italian top flight has gone through a ‘rebirth’ of sorts. Ever since Paul Pogba’s (then) world record move from Juventus to Manchester United, the Old Lady haven’t been given the same fear as they did. Despite taking Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli, the dynamics in Italy have reshaped slightly as the Milan clubs’ have been rejuvenated by foreign owners, Sarri’s Napoli side have been flying high & Roma’s have slowly but surely maintained their own lofty standards.

Furthermore if you include clubs like Atalanta, Fiorentina & Lazio into the mix, all these clubs will be looking for a frontman to fire them into the Champions League places come the end of the season. There are already some favourites for the Capocannoniere, but who will rise above the rest?

Paulo Dybala

Ever since being deployed as the number 10 in Allegri’s system, Dybala has become central to Juve’s fortunes. Being their match winner & prime creator on many occasions, it is likely he’ll bear most of the attacking responsibility domestically and in European competition. However, with the rumours of Dybala already feeling the fatigue, it is yet to be seen whether Dybala can remain consistent throughout the season.

Capocannoniere | Dybala

If Juventus are to win the league again & progress in the Champions League, it is likely Paulo will have to register double digits for goals and assists. His current for indicates doing this won’t be a struggle but how many he scores domestically may be affected by Juventus’ European progress.

Dries Mertens

‘Sarriball’ has electrified Napoli fans & viewers alike as their high octane attacking football has seen them dispatch of many teams with ease. In what was an unfortunate turn of luck, an injury to Arkadiusz Milik meant that the winger had to evolve into the star striker overnight. Despite playing just over half the season as a striker, Mertens finished as second top scorer in the league. Provided he plays even more games up top this season, there’s no doubt he can hit over 30 goals domestically.

Capocannoniere| Mertens

Without getting carried away one has to consider that such an intense style of football carries the risk of burnout. After going out of the Champions League to Real Madrid last season, Napoli’s form dipped, which in a way arguably caused them to miss out on the title. It also relies on Sarri to keep an eye on Mertens to ensure he doesn’t play on till he is completely drained out and empty. There’s a large probability Mertens can go one better & win the golden boot, but how much will Sarri value goals over fitness?

Mauro Icardi

In his most recent game for the I Nerazzuri, Icardi scored a hat trick in the Milan derby. That performance spoke volumes as to how confident he is. For a few seasons now he has been the one keeping his side in the chase for European football & the increasing amounts of Argentina caps are an accurate representation of his form. With his side sitting pretty near Serie A’s summit, one shared concern between most Inter watchers is the lack of creativity.

Capocannoniere| Icardi

Despite their squad containing talented technicians, Icardi’s ability to turn half power chances into goals is what’s keeping them up there. If Icardi gets injured or goes through a bad patch of form, Inter may well tumble out of the top 6. To Icardi’s benefit his side aren’t in Europe which allows him to realistically play all 38 league games but he may well have to be more clinical than ever when it comes to his chance conversion.

Edin Dzeko

As he finished top scorer last season with 29 league goals, he’s almost had a wonderful transformation from Manchester City’s super sub to Roma’s star striker. Of course he can do it again but with a large squad turnover, new manager & tough Champions League campaign all waiting to unfold, Dzeko will have to adapt to all these changes rather quickly in order for him to better his tally from last season. It will be hard for him to win the golden boot again due to the amount of competitors he has on/around his level but if he doesn’t hit the heights of last season, expect Roma to suffer in terms of their league position.

Capocannoniere| Dzeko

Gonzalo Higuain

Ever since scoring 36 goals in the 15/16 season, he hasn’t quite hit the heights of his record breaking season. That year he got 36 goals whilst playing 35 league games. Coincidentally this was Maurizio Sarri’s first season with Napoli so it shows how effective Sarri’s brand of attacking football really is. However since joining Juventus he has been outshone by Paulo Dybala & Juventus fans’ attitude towards Higuain is that ‘we have him’ as rather than ‘we need him’.

Capocannoniere | Higuain

Granted, on his day he can be one of the world’s most devastating strikers but those days have been few and far between. Should he fail to show how good he really can be on the football pitch, expect Higuain to be watching the World Cup from home next summer as Argentina’s squad doesn’t have space for numerous strikers.

Ciro Immobile

This season Immobile has found a habit of scoring in 2s & 3s. A hat trick against Milan and two braces in two games against Juventus, Immobile isn’t scared to be called upon in the big moments. In the Europa League he’s also been scoring so it seems like the 3-5-2 deployed by Inzaghi has benefited Circo massively. Should the Italian striker keep scoring a Europa League finish or another Copa Italia run isn’t beyond I Biancazzuri. With Italy’s strikers yet to stake a proper claim to go to Russia in the summer it may well be in Immobile’s mind to get a call up & they’d be no better way to do so than by taking his side into another cup final or better yet, the Champions League.

Capocannoniere| Immobile

Honourable mentions

Andrea Belotti had a break out year last year as he scored 26 league goals in 35 games last season. His £85 million release clause saw him stay at the club as Europe’s elite weren’t yet convinced that it would be a good investment just yet. Another good season & a good World Cup for Italy could lead for bigger & better things in future.

Alejandro Gomez has proven himself to provide that moment of magic for Atlanta & his goal against Everton is just that. Atlanta’s squad was picked apart over the summer so at the age of 29 it’s likely one huge push to Papu’s physical limits could do wonders for his club (& country if he goes to the World Cup) but the after effects of this won’t be seen until next season.

Nikola Kalinic was brought in as part of Milan’s recruitment regeneration over the summer. As well as signing the promising Portuguese striker Andre Silva, Fassone & Mirabelli felt they needed an experienced Serie A striker to help Silva (& Cutrone) settle in. Milan’s squad is yet to gel so don’t expect Kalinic to score significantly more than his 15 league goals last season.

The various storylines & sub-plots of Italian football lead to an intriguing race for the Capocannoniere. It is very likely that someone will need to break Higuain’s 36 goal record to secure the golden boot.