It’s been a tough few seasons for Giuseppe Rossi but focus must move away from the Italian’s injuries, for his own sake, and look upon how Pepito has reignited his career at Fiorentina. It was a season that, before his latest knee issue, started so promisingly for the 27-year-old with 14 goals in 18 appearances.
It was form the result of seamlessly fitting into Vincenzo Montella’s set-up in Florence, even as the Coach chopped and changed his line-up when Rossi was fit. La Viola have played 3-5-2, 4-5-1 and 4-3-3, yet the one player who when fit had always held his position was Rossi. In turn, the American-born forward thrived off the creative influence of former Villarreal teammate Borja Valero, alongside Alberto Aquilani and Colombian Juan Cuadrado, who between them had provided Rossi with 10 assists before his January injury.
Such great form caught the eye of Cesare Prandelli, who brought the striker back into the international fold last October, after more than two years out of the picture.
Rossi’s comfort in playing off the striker as well as being the sole forward made him invaluable to the Azzurri and even in the long-term knee injury that has since followed from January, Prandelli has more than once said that he would ‘wait until the very end’ for his return. If the Coach says that, you know he’s done something right.
Thankfully, the 27-year-old managed 30 minutes against Napoli in the Coppa Italia Final and then followed that the next midweek with a goal in his League comeback against Sassuolo. Whilst yet to start a match and still without 90 minutes in his legs, the signs are positive that Rossi may be back just in time.
Pertinent to remaining in contention despite fitness doubts have been his statistics before the injury. Back in January, he had the best goals-to-games ratio at 0.77, more than any other Italian forward and even in missing five months of action and seeing a number of compatriots make a case for World Cup inclusion, only Mattia Destro has since been able to better that particular statistic.
The only doubts over Rossi’s inclusion this summer are based on his injury and his fitness - is the risk there that he could get injured in the opening group game or that he won’t return to peak fitness in time for what will be a physically demanding competition? Prandelli has stated the need for athletes first, players second this summer. Candidates such as Alberto Gilardino may have been less prolific in comparison this term, but they can boast few fitness concerns.
If he stays fit, it’s pretty straight forward to say that Rossi will be attending the World Cup. Azzurri fans will be licking their lips at the potential of the Fiorentina man partnered with Mario Balotelli or even Immobile if given the call. This is Rossi’s time to shine, to show the world what we’ve been missing and, should his body allow him, he will likely not disappoint.