Thursday December 29 2016
Rossi evaluates Serie A strikers

Paolo Rossi calls Inter’s Mauro Icardi “deadly”, Gonzalo Higuain of Juventus “perfect” and is surprised by Edin Dzeko and Andrea Belotti.

The former striker is a national hero after his goalscoring exploits as Italy won the World Cup in 1982, and he was asked about the current Serie A forwards.

“It’s confirmation that strikers are eternal,” Rossi explained.

“Football evolves and changes, but in the end the goal is what comes from the work and the compactness of the team.

“Of the top-scorers, I think Mauro Icardi could be the most concrete of the group. Even in the most complicated games he can create the right opportunity and take advantage of it. He’s deadly.

“Belotti and Dzeko? On an individual level, they’re the two surprises of the season.

“The Granata man [Belotti] is the best Italian striker. He did the right apprenticeship before exploding, and he represents the future of the national team.

“I like him because he perfectly embodies the prototype that I have in mind for an Italian striker, a mixture of technique and physical strength. He reminds me of [Luis] Suarez of Barcelona.

“Dzeko, on the other hand, has surprised me positively. After a disappointing season last year he’s managed to get back to high levels, and he’s proving he’s a top-class forward.

“As for Higuain, it’s true that he’s been less consistent than last season, but he’s in a different context.

“I think he’s the perfect striker, it’s put him in the top five for six in the world with Suarez, [Robert] Lewandowski and Diego Costa. And of course [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo.

“Dries Mertens? He’s the player I like best along with Higuain, because along with his recognised qualities he’s added an extraordinary scoring ability.

“He’s becoming a driving force for Napoli and he plays with joy. He’s playing so well as a striker that he could play there until the end of the season.”

So who will win the battle for Capocannoniere?

“Dzeko is the most likely because he’s consistent and Roma will assist him more because they’re fighting for the title. Icardi seems most disadvantaged by the team around him.

“Then we’ll need to see if Higuain will hit the right consistency, because if so he’ll reach important numbers again this year.”

‘Pablito’ was also asked for his opinion on the Scudetto race, and sees Roma and Napoli as the most likely challengers to Juventus.

“Despite Juventus’ advantage and the fact they’re definitely the best-equipped team, there’s still room for the others to recover,” Rossi said.

“It’s a long season. Roma and Napoli are the most competitive, let’s see if they can find a way to fight with the Bianconeri.

“The Champions League? Juventus are more likely to continue their journey than Napoli, who face Real Madrid.

“Allegri can reach the Semi-Finals, but they’ll have to improve from several points of view. I think Barcelona are the favourites for the Champions League.”

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