Ciro Immobile’s career has been a strange one. The striker has already turned out for a number of clubs already in his relatively short career; a career characterized by highs and lows. Richard Hinman has a look back at the Italian’s career as he’s once again looking to get it back on track at Sevilla.
Ciro Immobile is not blessed with a striking name. With a surname which suggest a motionless forward at best, you could be forgiven for thinking the Juventus youth product was not made out for the world of professional football. But how wrong you would be.
Immobile started his career on the picturesque Amalfi coast in southern Italy. At his hometown club of Sorrento, Immobile quickly became one of the hottest young properties in the country, scoring 30 goals in one season for the under-17 side. It was not long before the giants of the Italian game were circling around young Ciro.
It was Juventus who secured the signature and Immobile was on his way north. In Italy the north/south divide is big and Immobile moved to Turin when he was just 18 years old. The striker has admitted since that he struggled to adjust to life in the north. Yet on the pitch he was doing fine.
More than fine in fact. He was becoming the best young forward in the Italian game. At Primavera level he looked unstoppable. He made his name in the prestigious Torneo di Viareggio. Immobile helped Juve win the title in both 2009 and 2010, in the latter he was the tournament’s top scorer with a remarkable 10 goals in 7 games, which is a record for a single Viareggio competition. Immobile is still the all-time record scorer in the competition with his 14 goals over his two appearances at the tournament.
But he failed to break into the first team at Juventus. Immobile made just two substitute appearances during the 2009/10 season. In the following season he was sent out on loan to gain first team experience. He failed miserably, first with Grosseto and then with Siena. In 20 appearances for both the Serie B teams he scored just 2 goals. People began to question Ciro. Was he just a good Primavera player? Could he hack it in the professional game? With the help of one of the Italian game’s most charismatic coaches, Immobile would defy the critics.
Zdenek Zeman divides opinion. For some he is a cult figure in the Italian game who plays football the right way, the attacking way. For others he a useless tactician who knows little about the modern game. Regardless of the debate, what the Czech born coach did in the 2012/13 season at Pescara was remarkable. Immobile headed a trio with Marco Veratti and Lorenzo Insigne which took Italy’s second tier by storm. Pescara claimed the Serie B title on the last day of the season to end a 19 year wait for top flight football. Immobile finished as the division’s top scorer and best player. and Genoa agreed a co-ownership deal with Juventus, which took Immobile to Liguria for the following season.
This was Ciro’s big chance. He could now prove himself in Serie A. He failed again. Immobile made a bright enough start at Genoa. He scored on his debut against Cagliari and even bagged a goal against his parent club Juventus a few weeks later. But overall Immobile had an awful season. He scored just 5 times in 33 appearances. He failed to find the net at all in the second half of the season as Genoa narrowly avoided relegation from Italy’s top flight, finishing in 17th place.
Ciro’s critics were vocal once again. Was he good enough for Serie A? Was he just a one season wonder in Serie B? Torino, like Pescara did, would give Immobile another chance to prove himself. Juventus bought back Genoa’s 50% of Immobile, who were more than willing to get him off their books, and sold it to the other team in Turin on the very same day.
Many wrote off Immobile’s move to Torino, he was destined to fail and was just a sweetener after Juventus had bought Torino’s best player Angelo Ogbonna. He would prove to be a revelation. He formed a deadly partnership alongside Alessio Cerci as Torino qualified for Europe for the first time in 12 years.
Two years after being Serie B’s top scorer with an unfancied side, Immobile repeated the feat in Serie A. He scored 22 goals to become Torino’s first Capocannoniere since the mid 1970’s. Immobile also received his first Italy call up during the season, coming on for Cerci in a friendly against Spain.
Immobile was the hottest property in the Italian game. He was being chased by all the top teams in the country but looked set to finally make his mark at Juventus, six years after signing for the club. But to the surprise of most in Italy, he went to Germany.
It was an unexpected move but not unprecedented. In 2006 Serie A’s top scorer moved to a Bundesliga giant. Luca Toni, following a remarkable 31 goals in Italy’s top flight and a World Cup triumph, moved to Bayern Munich.
Yet Immobile’s transfer to Borussia Dortmund was complicated from the start. He was sold to Dortmund before Juventus and Torino had agreed their co-ownership deal leading to a very public disagreement between the two clubs.
Immobile meanwhile was delighted. He now had his chance to shine at a big club which truly wanted him, something he never felt at Juve. “Borussia tried so hard to sign me…… Jorgen Klopp said he watched 70 games of mine before signing me, that’s more than my dad has ever seen me play!” Immobile told reporters as he was presented to the German media. The joy in his voice was palpable.
But once again Immobile was unable to make the step up at the first time of asking. Many factors were at play. Immobile only started 7 league games for Borussia last season and when brought on was rarely given more than 20 minutes to prove his worth.
The tactics of Klopp, the man who was so pivotal in bringing Immobile to the Westfalenstadion, did not suit Immobile. The long ball style of Dortmund last season, left the Italian often isolated and on the periphery of games. Add to that the decision of Klopp to announce his departure from the club mid-way through the season and it is easy to make a case in defence of Immobile’s poor first season in Germany.
Now Immobile is on the move again. His move to Sevilla on loan for the upcoming season sees him join his 8th team in the last 6 years. He has been brought in to replace Carlos Bacca, who has moved to Italy. It once again seems to be a make or break season for Ciro, like so many in his relatively short career. Can Immobile prove himself at an elite European club? Can he become an established figure in Antonio’s Conte Italy side?
Sevilla will be hoping Immobile can find his best form that he showed at Pescara and Torino. Or that he can repeat his uncanny ability to raise his game when he has something to prove.
Written by Richard Hinman
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