It might be too early to make fanciful prognostications or ostentatious declarations of glory over the brilliant start to Andrea Belotti’s Palermo career. The boy is still young into his professional career, much less his Rosanero one, but the indications up till this point give reason to be excited. Andrea Belotti is making the most of his opportunities in Sicily.
Supporters of Palermo are prone to skepticism and lamentations. These things tend to come out most often around the transfer period. Make no mistake, in the Zamparini Era, Palermo have enjoyed many successes in their transfer policy. Yet, for every Amauri, Cavani, Pastore and Abel Hernandez, there are the more prevalent busts such as Andrea Raggi, João Pedro, Francesco Della Rocca, Nicolas Bertolo, Franco Vazquez and frankly, basically everyone from last season’s winter transfer window save Sorrentino. So, perhaps the skepticism and lamentations aren’t without cause, especially when Zamparini has the tendency to talk up and prop up these transfers as the latest and greatest in world football.
Maybe it was the result of being in Serie B and a quieter, more reserved (well, let’s say “not as boisterous”) Zamparini that the summer window went off with little fanfare. There was the will-they-stay-or-will-they-go debate concerning Abel Hernandez and Stefano Sorrentino, but beyond that not much was made about the numerous signings brought in for the new life in B.
And so, there was barely a whimper when Palermo announced the arrival of this kid named Andrea Belotti from Albinoleffe on a loan with option to buy half his contract deal as well as the strict loan for Roma product Valerio Verre of Udinese. In fact, the bigger announcement was found in the second paragraph of the post on the club’s official site. Namely, Emiliano Viviano had joined EPL outfit Arsenal on loan.
“Belotti who? Never heard of him.” That was the general response from the Palermo public. Of course, a few football hipsters would point out he enjoyed a good season in Lega Pro with Albinoleffe while also making numerous appearances at the Italy U-19, U-20 and U-21 levels. Even Zamparini kept the comments brief and uncharacteristically diplomatic when commenting on the arrival of this Andrea kid. “The striker is arriving from Albinoleffe, a team that has often brought us luck. He’s one of the best youngsters…” Gone were the comparisons to current stars so often made in the past, putting undue pressure and attention on these arrivals.
Andrea came in at an uneasy time at the club. Gattuso’s position was on thin ice and it wouldn’t be long before Beppe Iachini would take over. Iachini’s arrival not only was a dream for Palermo, it was a critical step in the development and opportunity for Belotti. He was given a chance.
Belotti, nicknamed “Il Gallo” (The Rooster) for his celebration he does for his best friend, has been an incredible surprise. In eight games, he has five goals and three assists. Most of those eight matches have been substitute appearances making what he’s accomplished even more surreal. Belotti has only played 372 minutes out of a possible 720. Considering that total, Belotti is scoring a goal every 74 minutes – an astonishing number. Furthermore, his goals have been of the critical variety, earning Palermo precious points. The powers-that-be have said Belotti’s goals have given Palermo 10 total points that they wouldn’t have without his crucial scores. Of course, statistical logic says he won’t keep up his insane goalscoring rate, but he has already proved he belongs at the club and worthy of the time he’s been given.
The soon-to-be 20-year-old striker possesses some fantastic qualities. He is able in his control with the ball while maintaining a physical presence that allows him to withstand even the pushiest of Serie B defenders. His goals have proven his versatility, scoring with his feet, inside and outside the box, as well as with his head. In some ways, his style of play is reminiscent of Amauri, even if comparisons shouldn’t be given too much weight.
Iachini has given him his big chance and Il Gallo has not looked back. The strong performances have resulted in more playing time. With more playing time has come more goals. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find a fan that doesn’t want him to start up top for the Rosanero. And while his idol is Shevchenko and his ultimate goal is to play for Milan, he’s the present and future of this Palermo side looking to return to the Promised Land.