“Fabio Quagliarella should be protected by UNESCO as a world heritage site, he is immortal. There really are no more words to say about him.”
Marco Giampaolo spoke to DAZN with a smile but there was certainly a serious tone in his words and rightly so. The veteran striker has been superlative this season and he is setting a shining example to the younger members of the Sampdoria squad. The Genoese team are starting to blossom this term and are looking they could be a strong contender for the Europa League places.
Perhaps only fans of Genoa could find the sight of Sampdoria in full flight unappealing, but in recent weeks full flight is exactly what they’ve been. They are showcasing their potential in the process, and Giampaolo’s coaching style is starting to work wonders with the young squad.
After three defeats in a row, culminating in a mauling by Roma in November, the Blucerchiati bounced back in style. Three wins and two draws in all competitions have moved Samp only to within three points of the Champions League places. That said, they’re in ninth spot, embroiled in a tight battle with six clubs separated by no more than four points. Games against Empoli away and Chievo at home will give ample opportunity to keep the momentum going, before they face both Juventus and Milan either side of New Year.
Key to their success this term, has been the evergreen ‘world heritage site’ that is Quagliarella. The veteran has scored in his last six games back-to-back and it is reported that will earn him a new contract which will run until 2020. His season total of nine goals and five assists has him sitting in fourth place in the scoring charts, and shots on target ratio of 58 per cent, is the best in the league along side Ciro Immobile. The 35-year-old is also doing it in style - just look at his spectacular back heel against Napoli in September to see the best of his collection.
Giampaolo’s target man is not the only man who is impressing this season, however. Emilio Audero (on loan from Juventus) has been superb in goal and has arguably done enough to earn him a permanent deal. Samp have an option to buy him, and they’ll surely take it up before the end of the season.
Audero has incredible maturity for a 21-year-old, as does Joachim Anderson, who at 22 has been exceptional at centre-back and has done enough to attract interest from Inter. At 28, Lorenzo Tonelli is one of the more experienced of the back line, and his loan move from Napoli has so far been a success as he helps guide the young defence.
Further up the field, Riccardo Saponara has been improving as the season goes on, while Denis Praet has been proving that at 24 he has a big future ahead of him. Much could be written of all of the squad, as even some players who have been in and out of the team have managed to be effective. Fans of Inter will be watching the development of Gianluca Caprari with interest. The former Nerazzurri man has netted three times and looks like a very capable and cultured forward. Perhaps the icing on the cake would be if the rumours that Roma’s underperforming Patrik Schick will former club on loan prove true. If he could regain even some of the form that he exhibited before he left for the Eternal City, it would be a huge boost for Sampdoria.
The future looks bright for the Blucerchiati boys, and Europe could be on the horizon. The mixture of loan signings, youthful talent and a few older heads seems to be the perfect mix. Whether this is the Sampdoria model of the future, or just one that they have accidentally stumbled upon, remains to be seen, but they are playing a brand of football that is exciting to watch and which should be encouraged. Giampolo has mentioned the difficulty in keeping hold of players like Schick and Lucas Torreira, but if they reinvest wisely - as they have been doing - they could have a formula for success.