Highly-rated forward Andrea Belotti has helped fire Torino towards an unlikely charge for European football next season and the 23-year-old has been linked with a possible move to Arsenal in the summer.
Who is he?
The Italian striker made his competitive debut for Italy back in September and has netted three goals in World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Liechtenstein – with many expecting him to become a regular in the national squad for years to come, provided he remains consistent in-front of goal at club level.
Mario Balotelli and Simone Zaza are just two examples of Italian strikers who’ve fallen down the pecking order due to a lack of consistency for their respective clubs, but Belotti has continued to replicate his goal-scoring exploits from the 2015/16 campaign and is doing so with impressive regularity.
13 goals and four assists in 16 Serie A appearances this season means he’s second to only Inter’s Mauro Ícardi (14) in the goal-scoring charts, with the campaign only just restarting from their winter break this weekend. His importance to Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side cannot be understated, and Belotti’s presence has proven influential in helping the likes of Iago Falqué and Adem Ljajic maintain consistency in the final third.
Why would Arsenal want him?
At 23, he represents a long-term attacking option for Arsenal and one that could prove a profitable return on the transfer fee they pay for him if reports about their interest is true.
He has starred for Torino in an otherwise average side quality-wise, so it’s hard not to imagine how he could flourish with the likes of Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil providing pin-point service in-and-around the box.
He’s not afraid to get involved defensively out of possession, which is rare for forwards in the game currently. His attack positioning is troublesome to say the least and he’s shown on numerous occasions that his finishing ability is also impressive – scoring headers and close-range efforts galore whilst being heavily involved in build-up play on the edge of the area.
With that being said, there’s plenty of competition for places at the moment at Arsenal and his arrival would definitely signal the departure of at least one or two forwards in the side.
Olivier Giroud is reportedly close to signing a contract extension and Lucas Pérez has impressed since his summer move, but there have been questions over the suitability of Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott because neither are injury-free for more than a few months at a time.
£50m is, ultimately, a steep price to pay but given his form and importance to Torino, it makes sense that unless he publicly makes it clear that he wants to leave, they’ll be eager to keep hold of their prized asset for as long as possible.
Whether or not Arsenal will be prepared to pay such a high fee, or would risk losing out by trying to negotiate a lower sum, remains to be seen.