Alberto Paloschi capped his return from a lengthy injury lay-off for Chievo at the weekend. Dylan Fahy explains why the striker has not quite turned into Filippo Inzaghi quite yet.
The journalists at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris had their headlines at half-time as Genoa hosted Chievo on Sunday last. Alberto Paloschi returned from a lengthy spell of the sidelines to net a hat-trick before the interval for the visitors, and that infamous quote from a certain Filippo Inzaghi was recycled once again.
“I have no doubts, Alberto will be my replacement here at Milan,” insisted the former Italian international in 2010. The guarantee from the striker turned tactician has not quite materialized quite yet, however.
Paloschi has been destined to take over the reigns from Inzaghi upfront for the Rossoneri ever since he entered the fray as a baby-faced 17-year-old against Siena in 2007. The striker replaced Serginho late in the tie at the San Siro and scored the decisive goal 18 seconds into his Serie A debut. Coach Carlo Ancelotti spoke very highly of the forward that joined the club’s academy in 2001, and handed him several appearances alongside Alberto Gilardino in his first campaign.
In the summer of 2008, Parma snapped up the opportunity to take Paloschi to the Ennio Tardini in a co-ownership agreement with Milan. The Crociati, then in Serie B, offered the Brescia native the consistent playing time he craved. In the outfit’s successful promotion season to Serie A, he netted a respectable tally of 12 goals. The striker was also beginning to thrive at underage level for Italy, and was regularly getting called up for the Under-19s.
An agreement was hastily established to keep Paloschi in Emilia-Romagna for the following term, but muscular problems severely limited his opportunities for the entire year to only a handful of starts. Once again the Gialloblu hierarchy persuaded the San Siro giants to allow him to stay another season. However, his chronic muscular issues sidelined him until January. Milan decided a move to Genoa was best, and he played out the rest of the 2010-11 season with the Grifoni.
Paloschi returned north in May after a stuttering spell with Genoa, and it was perceived that Coach Massimiliano Allegri would keep the youngster in the squad. Ultimately the presence of heavyweight forwards such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic meant that first team action would be few and far between and he was sent to Chievo for a season-long loan with an option for co-ownership. A miserable return of six goals in 36 left him stranded in Verona ahead of the latest campaign.
The 22-year-old showed promise with seven strikes in pre-season training with the Flying Donkeys, but his injury issues cropped up once again. After feeling pain in his ankle during a session the diagnosis showed a sprained right ankle with lesion of the ligament and capsule. The set-back sidelined him for three months, and following several appearances from the bench in November, the striker was thrown in at the deep end against his former club last Sunday.
Paloschi returned the favour with a handsome first-half hat-trick that included a disputable offside run that would have made his old master Pippo proud. “My dream is make it into Cesare Prandelli’s Italy squad,” asserted the striker at full-time. A more realistic ambition for the time being, highlighted by the man himself, would be to give a strong showing at next summer’s Under-21 European Championship in Israel. “I think the tournament's going to be an important window for me.”
The boy still has an excellent chance to make it back into Allegri’s current side should he return to Milan to fulfill his ‘destiny’. The comparisons to Pippo will never help him in his continued development, but a strong showing and injury-free remainder to the season are all that truly matter to a player whose career has been plagued by a lack of consistency and a dose of misfortune.