There are many stories in football that seem too crazy to be true, from a £2m nobody scoring 22 goals in a season with Swansea in his maiden English season to James Milner getting sent off against Palace by his former PE teacher.
But the most impressive tale of this season has the been the sudden rise of Krzysztof Piątek.
Signed after a 21-goal-haul in his second year at Cracovia in his home nation of Poland, the Ekstraklasa’s 3rd top scorer headed to Genoa in Serie A without much fanfare. A 19 minute hat-trick and 4-goal-haul in his debut against Lecce in the Coppa Italia changed all that instantly.
8 goals in his first 6 matches followed. He then broke the record for the best goal scoring start to a season (a record held since 1949) and became the first man since Gabriel Batistuta to score in the first 7 games of a Serie A season.
A total of 13 goals in 19 league games was enough to catch the eye of AC Milan, who’s star striker Gonzalo Higuain was pulled from under them by Juventus to send to Chelsea. But many Milan fans have concerns that the Pole’s hot streak is over. Should they be worried that their €30m is going to waste?
We’ll start with the negatives.
The goals have slowed down somewhat compared to the start of the season, with a 5 match dry spell in the middle of his time at Genoa looking particularly worrying.
It can be argued however that these were all against the stronger sides in the division, but shouldn’t the Rossoneri’s main man be a big game player? Likewise, his effectiveness in Gattuso’s system is debatable. At Genoa Piątek had Christian Kouamé beside him, who’s work this season has gone under appreciated thanks to Piątek’s scoring spree, and who a vocal percentage of fans will tell you is the better player.
His creativity and ability to make space complimented the Pole perfectly, and it’ll be interesting to see how Piątek copes in a system that puts him further forwards and often pretty isolated. Even if he is deployed with a strike partner, Patrick Cutrone’s style doesn’t necessarily compliment his and the two may struggle not to trip over each other.
Why we should be excited
However, negativity aside it’s hard not to be excited for a player with such a prolific record. Still only 23, even if he does plateau a bit there’s plenty of time for him to learn and develop his skills to produce that many goals at a consistent rate.
If rumours are to be believed then the service he receives may soon be improving too: Gerard Deulofeu is rumoured to be making a return to the San Siro, whilst youngster Arnaut Danjuma Groeneveld (along with seemingly every other young winger in the game right now) has also been linked to the club.
PSV youngster Steven Bergwijn is also a possible target, although the Rossoneri will face tough competition for his services from Liverpool, Spurs and Manchester United. Looking more directly at the man himself, Piątek has all the attributes you’d want from a no.9: he’s confident, solid in the air, a clinical finisher and positions himself well.
Despite the great work of his strike partner at Genoa his service was far from the best and if the Pole can keep capitalising in the way he has been, he’ll endear himself to his new fans quickly.
Milan fans find themselves in a familiar position
They’ve been here before: a promising new striker, the foundations of a strong side and plenty of optimism for the future. However, it’s down to sporting director Leonardo to finally secure the out-and-out winger the teams been looking for in order to give their new frontman the chances he needs.
Cover in the midfield may be required too, although Lucas Paqueta is an exciting new arrival, and the unfortunate run of injuries in their centre back pool is testing Gianluigi Donnarumma’s mettle in goal. Once the injuries clear up and the team starts to gel though, this could be the start of an exciting future for Milan. But then again, how many times have we said that before?