By 90Min
August 28, 2019

Lazio got off to the perfect start in Serie A on Sunday night as they cruised past Sampdoria 3-0. The game was particularly special for Ciro Immobile, who scored his 100th Serie A goal in the first half, before adding his 101st after the break.

The Italian forward has netted those 101 goals in 189 league appearances. That statistic warrants appreciation. Yet when speaking about elite level strikers, Immobile's name rarely gets mentioned. Is he underrated, or is he indeed just below the top batch of forwards in European football? 

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Here are some reasons which indicate why Immobile is so often overlooked.


Playing in the Wrong Era


Name League Goals Appearances Goals Per Game
Luis Suarez La Liga 131 164 0.80
Robert Lewandowski Bundesliga 207 292 0.71
Sergio Aguero Premier League 168 242 0.69
Harry Kane Premier League 127 184 0.69
Edinson Cavani Ligue 1 195 283 0.69
Ciro Immobile Serie A 101 189 0.53

According to the numbers, Immobile has the worst goals per game ratio of six of the best forwards in European football today, despite his record of scoring at better than a goal in every two games. That record in previous years would have sealed his place as a truly great striker. Nowadays, it does not. In fact, he is some way adrift of the top five.

Let's compare him with great Serie A strikers of the past. Immobile's goals per game ratio is better than that of Roberto Baggio, Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Del Piero and Hernan Crespo. All exceptional forwards, but none statistically better than Immobile in front of goal. Yet ask a fan where Immobile sits on that list of players, and he is likely to end up at the bottom. 

Is that unfair? Perhaps so. Of course, nostalgia plays a part. As time goes by, players earn greater respect from fans who can look back at the entirety of their careers and truly recognise just how good they were and what they won. Immobile may well be seen as a great when he eventually hangs up his boots, but for now that is not the case.


Yet to Have a Standout Moment

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Another factor to consider is what his goals have meant to his team. Suarez, Lewandowski, Aguero and Cavani have all won titles with their sides, whilst Kane won the Golden Boot with England at last year's World Cup. Baggio, Crespo, Del Piero and Inzaghi also won domestic titles, with the latter two adding a World Cup triumph to their resumes for good measure. Immobile has yet to do that, or even come particularly close.

Admittedly, Lazio are not expected to challenge for the Serie A title so Immobile is at a disadvantage here. However, like it or not, strikers are often judged on the significance of their goals as well as how many they score. People remember Aguero's last-minute winner to secure the Premier League for Manchester City in 2012. They remember Kane's heroics at the World Cup. Immobile has not had one of those moments. Until he does, he will continue to battle for widespread admiration.


Falling Short Abroad & at International Level

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Immobile's statistics in his homeland are impressive. The same cannot be said for his record in Germany and Spain. 

In his spells at Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla, Immobile netted just five goals in total across 32 league appearances. Suarez and Aguero have shone in both Spain and England, proving that they can perform wherever they go. Immobile was unable to do that, and some fans may remember him for it. Again, that may be a little unfair, but that is the life of being a centre forward.

It is a similar story for the Italian national team. Seven goals in 35 caps is hardly a scoring record to write home about. He has been unable to consistently hold down a place in the side, missing out to the likes of Mario Balotelli, Moise Kean and Fabio Quagliarella in recent times. The elite strikers cement their places in their national sides. Immobile has not.


Very Good, But Not Yet Great

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At 29 years of age, Immobile seems to be at his peak and has plenty of time to continue to carve out his legacy. In time, he may well be remembered as a great striker.

For now though, he is not quite at that level, as he strives to chase down the best in the business.

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