With no new player acquisitions in over 48 hours, it appears as though Walter Sabatini is sleeping on the job. So, while Big Walt gathers his breath, let's take a look at one of his bygone captures, one who has inexplicably been connected with a move away from Roma, Mattia Destro. With a club leading 13 goals in only 20 appearances, good for eighth in the league, it's no wonder Destro is a sought after player, with everyone from Inter Milan to Tottenham desperate for his services. So why on earth would Roma consider selling a player as young and as talented as Destro?
Quick answer, they wouldn't. The assertion made in the story linked above is so off the mark, it borders on laughable. Destro, as true a striker as you'll find in the game today, is suddenly expendable because the club has purchased Juan Iturbe, Salih Uçan and Tonny Sanabria?
Iturbe and Uçan, though gifted attackers in their own right, don't even play the same position as Destro, and Sanabria, while ostensibly a striker/center forward, is just a teenager; an extremely promising one, but certainly not one capable of unseating one of Italy's most productive goal scorers.
While budgets are always a concern, the funds invested in those players have no bearing on the present or future of Mattia Destro, tactically or financially. Although, at this point, I feel it's necessary we take a moment to reflect on the irony of one of our players being connected to a rumor as flimsy as this. We've certainly been on the other end of this numerous times this summer, so let's just be thankful that neither Inter nor Spurs are headed by anyone as capable as Walter Sabatini, otherwise we'd be proper fucked.
So, rather than assailing the English media's stilted view of Serie A, let's take a quick moment to appreciate how truly special Mattia Destro is now and what he might become in the near future.
Destro is only 23-years-old, but he's already thrown together a hell of a CV. In 2011-2012, his first full professional season, Mr. Right gave the league a glimpse of how deadly and efficient he can be in front of the goal.
Destro bagged 12 goals that season across 30 appearances, each of which came during the run of play, making his 0.49 NPG90 (non-penalty goals per 90 minutes) eighth in the league. To put that in context, Destro's goal scoring rate trailed only Fabrizio Miccoli (odd, right?), Edinson Cavani, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Diego Milito, Antonio DiNatale, and Rodrigo Palacio. And all of that came at only age 20, so in case you'd forgotten what a pain in the ass it was to acquire him, there was a damn good reason for the chase in the first place.
While 2012-2013 was essentially a lost season for Destro---he played 1,000 fewer minutes--he did match his scoring pace from the previous season, 0.49 goals per 90--so if nothing else, he didn't shrink on the bigger stage. But what Destro achieved this past season was truly remarkable and makes the notion of selling him for any amount downright ludicrous.
Destro's 13 goals came in only 1,230 minutes, good for an astounding 0.95 goals per 90 minutes, which tied him with Giuseppe Rossi for the league lead and was fifth across the five major European leagues, putting this duo ahead of titans like Luis Suarez, Zlatan, Diego Costa and Mario Mandzukic, among others, while they trailed only Alvaro Marota, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi...and yet, Cesare Prandelli saw no use for either of them in Brazil, hmm.
Destro is already among elite company, but when we drill those numbers down even further, he shines even brighter.
Destro's 13 goals came on only 35 shots, for an absurd conversion rate of 37%, while he put 63% of all his shots on target. These are remarkable numbers when you consider how little of the ball he actually saw this past season; he ranked 44th in total shot attempts, some 120 attempts behind Mario Balotelli, who grabbed only one more goal than Destro. With such a low usage rate, his accuracy and efficiency look even more astonishing.
While it remains to be seen how those numbers will hold up over a 2,500 minute season, anyway you distill his first 87 Serie A appearances, the point is clear; Destro is ridiculously talented, shooting and scoring with a precision and efficiency that belies his youth. If he can maintain that scoring rate, that shot accuracy and that efficiency, we're looking at one of the top strikers in the world.
We're barely through the looking glass here, people. Destro may be the best striker Italy has produced in a generation, making the mere notion of his sale ludicrous. Roma's suddenly lofty ambitions will surely falter without Mattia Destro.