Following his big-money move to Juventus, Dusan Vlahovic scored just 13 minutes into his debut, and bet365 have quoted 40/1 about him breaking the competition’s goalscoring record.
We’re 24 games into the season and the race for to win the Paolo Rossi Award couldn’t be tighter.
In the blue corner, with 18 goals from 20 games, Lazio’s Ciro Immobile.
In the black and white corner, with 18 goals from 21 games, Juventus’s Dusan Vlahovic.
Turning 32 this month and showing no signs of slowing down, Immobile remains the complete striker, quick, intelligent, hardworking, and capable of scoring with his right foot, left foot and his head.
Lethal in the penalty area, he’s recorded 14 xG this term, though he frequently beats the models, scoring 119 goals across his last five Serie A seasons, from just 96.5 xG.
In his last six full seasons in Italy, he’s won top scorer three times, and finished in the top 10 three other times. Once again he tops the scoring charts, although he’s currently sharing top spot with one of Europe’s best young prospects.
There was a brief spell when it appeared Vlahovic might not even see out the season in Serie A, with speculation around a move to Arsenal growing in January, but that move never materialised.
Another one did though, as the Serbian swapped Florence for Turin. Fiorentina offered to make Vlahovic the best-paid player in the club’s history, such was their desire to keep him, but with 18 months left on his contract, and with Europe’s big boys sniffing around, I Viola opted to sell up for around £70m.
The Old Lady surely have a future Paolo Rossi Award on their books, but this season may prove to be slightly too soon for that. The nearest contender, Giovanni Simeone, is on 12 goals and it appears to be a two-horse race to be Serie A’s top scorer, but Immobile remains Lazio’s primary goal threat, scoring nearly 40%!o(string=11/10)f their goals this season, and at %!s(MISSING), has every chance of becoming just the second player in history to be named Serie A top scorer for the fourth time.
At the age of 20, Vlahovic’s breakthrough season in Italy saw him score 21 goals, six coming from the spot. Make no mistake, that campaign was not a fluke. Despite having only just turned 22, he’s very much the real deal, and is 40/1 to break the record held by Immobile and Gonzalo Higuain of 36 goals in a season.
Somewhat reminiscent of Erling Haaland, Vlahovic offers a very physical presence, strong in the air, and while he’s not quite as fast as the Norwegian, he has enough pace to get away from defenders. He’s also a brilliant finisher (he’s recorded an xG of 31.7 and scored 39 goals in the last 18 months), and has the movement in and around the box of a much more experienced striker.
He can even take a free-kick, though it’s unlikely he’ll displace Paulo Dybala on set-pieces for Juventus.
The early signs from his debut against Verona was that he would be used purely as an out-and-out striker, similar to how he was used at Fiorentina, with Dybala and Alvaro Morata acting more as the creators.
On top of that, with no disrespect to his previous employers, he’s now playing for a superior team. Despite their early struggles with them perhaps adapting to life without Cristiano Ronaldo, or readjusting to life under Max Allegri, they’re now unbeaten in 10, winning seven, and playing more like the Juventus of old, and that can only help Vlahovic’s goal tally.
The youngster is riding the crest of a wave, and it feels like only injury could stop him adding several more goals in the final 14 games. He’s 6/1 to score 24 or fewer in Serie A this season.
He’s 11/10 to score 25 to 28, 11/10 to score 29 to 33 and 12/1 to score 34 to 36.
By Steve Freeth