Why Premier League sides should be scrambling to sign free agent Belotti
Posted on July 04, 2022
Back in December 2017, Andrea Belotti signed a new contract with Torino, which included a €100m release clause that applied to overseas clubs. At 23 years of age, the Italian was one of the hottest young striking talents on the continent and, fresh from a 2016/17 campaign that saw him net 26 times, interest in his services was understandably high.
However, in the years since, Belotti failed to match that goal return. Granted, the Italy international hit double figures in all but one of his seven full seasons with Torino, yet his exploits in front of goal for the Turin side meant Premier League interest was always a given.
Fast forward to the present day, though, and Belotti is a free agent. Torino protected their most valuable asset - Bremer - by convincing him to sign a new one-year deal earlier this year, which allows Il Toro to command a huge fee for the Brazilian centre-back this summer. Yet captain Belotti has departed without a huge transfer fee that was on the cards five years ago.
Now 28 years of age, Belotti isn't exactly past his best, though is on the market on the back of his worst goalscoring season in a Torino shirt having netted just eight times in Italy's top tier. A series of injuries denied him the chance to gain a head of steam in Serie A last season and restricted Belotti to just 16 league starts, and despite a seemingly disappointing goal return, that shouldn't deter potential suitors.
Torino were among the lowest scorers Serie A last season, netting just 46 times, and Belotti's respective spells on the sidelines didn't help matters. Even so, when fit, Torino's goals scored per game actually increased without the Italian (1.68) than with him (0.56). This is partly due to Belotti struggling to regain his rhythm, particularly when you look at the timings of his injuries, which forced him to miss games between August and October, November and February, and again in April. These were key periods in the season that denied him the chance to discover his best goalscoring form and, as a result, he did drop off radars.
Yet Belotti is an accomplished striker who is adept at both finishing off goalscoring chances as he is creating for teammates. During his time with Torino, he did register 28 assists, at least eight more than any other player, and has been far and away their top scorer in that time, netting 100 league goals. His excellent record in the final third means interest in his services should be high this summer.
What is crucial is that on the ball and in front of goal is that Belotti remains a consistent performer. Off it, he isn't afraid to throw himself about for the good of team. Indeed, Belotti contested a notable 8.6 aerial duels per 90 in Serie A last season, that the seventh most in Italy's top tier, and while he did win just 3.6 per 90, it's proof that the striker is willing to ruffle some feathers if the team does go direct.
He was routinely targetted by defenders as he sought to get under their skin and that saw him fouled 3.3 times per 90 last season, that the eighth highest in the division, yet gave it as good as he got, having committed 1.7 fouls per 90, so he is a frontman that isn't put off by the more physical aspect of the game. It's this approach that means he'd certainly suit the rough and tumble style of the Premier League.
As a free agent, teams in need of a striker this summer could certainly do worse than make a move for Belotti. Whether he'd be tempted by a move away from Italy, it remains to be seen, yet there is a good reason why the likes of Everton and West Ham have been credited with an interest. The former are in the market for another frontman as a replacement for Richarlison, while the latter could do with cover for Michail Antonio at the London Stadium.
There is ample talent on the free agent market this summer, and Torino must be kicking themselves that they didn't accept a multi-million pound offer for Belotti's services a few years ago. Belotti may have struggled to match his 2016/17 exploits last term, but could prove a low risk and high reward addition to a squad looking to add another striker this summer.
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