For every Gianfranco Zola, there is a Bernardo Corradi and it was obvious to the vast majority of Calcio followers which Italian Simone Zaza would emulate once his move to West Ham United was confirmed in the summer of 2016.
Of course, there was great expectation from the East London natives who celebrated the arrival of a 25-year-old Scudetto winner and Italian international. Unfortunately for Zaza, his career has gone downhill ever since he took the brave decision to leave the Bianconeri in search of regular first team football.
The Policoro-born forward endured a miserable six months in England, failing to score a single goal before suffering a knee injury that curtailed his time with the Hammers. In January 2017, Zaza joined Valencia on loan before signing permanently in April. The former Sassuolo striker enjoyed mixed success as the Mestalla, bagging a very respectable 13 goals from 33 league appearances, but it wasn’t enough to keep him in favour at the Spanish outfit.
Consequently, Zaza finds himself back in Italy’s top flight after two troublesome years away and can consider himself fortunate to be given another opportunity at a club which harbours European ambitions.
In fairness to the player, a major issue that has faced Zaza is his position. The former Juventus attacker is naturally suited as a second striker, or in a tandem with another forward, but played as the lone hitman during his ill-fated period in England. Despite this, a return of 19 goals in three years is simply not good enough.
Zaza has been afforded another chance and will now link up with international colleague Andrea Belotti. On paper, the duo should complement each other well, with the burly presence of Belotti occupying the opponents’ rearguard, while Zaza operates in a slightly more withdrawn role with less emphasis on being the focal point of the team.
Zaza can also take inspiration from compatriot Ciro Immobile. The Neapolitan left the Granata in 2014 for a big money transfer to Borussia Dortmund that was swiftly turned in to a loan to Sevilla. Immobile failed to settle but has not looked back since securing a move to Lazio in 2016. The 28-year-old hit over 40 goals last term and has continued where he left off at the start of the new season.
In the meantime, the new Toro Number 91 should feature against Inter this weekend and what better way to reintroduce himself than a winner on his return to Serie A football?