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Has Ciro Immobile’s time with the Azzurri run out?

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As a member of Pescara’s “Big Three” in the 2011-2012 season alongside Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Veratti, Ciro Immobile seemed destined for Italian stardom.

Originally a member of Sorrento in the Lega Pro Seconda Divisione, Immobile caught they eyes of Juventus and was signed for their Primavera side at the young age of 18. The Napolitano impressed greatly, leading his side to a victorious Torneo di Viareggio campaign in 2009, one where he scored two goals in the final. He made two important professional debuts for Juventus that season as well, one in Serie A versus Bologna and one in the UEFA Champions League versus Bordeaux.

He returned to the Juventus Primavera the following year, where he once again lead his team to a 2010 Toreo di Viareggio final win, this time scoring a hat trick versus Empoli. Desperate for more play in a competitive setting, Immobile was loaned to Serie B side Siena for the 2010 campaign. After failing to break into the first team and only logging four appearances, Immobile was then loaned to another Serie B squad in Grosseto for the remainder of the season.

Should Ciro Immobile be a starter for the Italian national team?

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Things then began to look bleak for the striker after only notching one goal in 16 appearances for his new side. With performances not convincing enough to return to Juventus, the Bianconeri loaned Immobile out to another Serie B squad in Pescara for the 2011-2012 season. His time with the Delfini was where he re-emerged as the prospect that many admired. Immobile blossomed alongside other promising youngsters Insigne and Veratti. He scored an astounding 28 goals in 37 appearances in a very balanced campaign where he already had 14 goals by the Serie B andata.

Due to his performances, Genoa paid Juventus €4 million for half of his rights halfway through his campaign with Pescara. I Rossoblu intended to bring Immobile into the top flight for the 2012-2013 campaign, and were left with no choice but to do so after Immobile continued to break-out.

Immobile scored in his first competitive game for Genoa, a 2-0 win over Cagliari. Genoa was convinced they had found their striker. Although he didn’t maintain his form for the rest of 2012, he still had a decent record of five goals in the first half of the season. The 2013 half of the season, however, was a different story for both Immobile and Genoa. Immobile failed to score a single goal, and Genoa were nearly relegated to Serie B after finishing in 17th place.

Juventus still believed Immobile to be promising due to his performances with Pescara, so they bought back Genoa’s half ownership of the striker. The Bianconeri knew Immobile would not see any playing time for their competitive squad, so he was loaned to neighbor rivals Torino for the 2013-2014 season. Partnered up with skillful winger Alessio Cerci, Immobile found the form he left in Pescara and scored 22 goals in 33 league appearances for Il Toro.

Looking to replace star striker Robert Lewandowski one year removed after their appearance in the Champions League final, Borussia Dortmund believed Immobile to be the ideal replacement. Immobile failed to settle in the Bundesliga, scoring a paltry three goals in 24 league appearances. The Dortmund board was not convinced, so they sent Immobile on loan with an option to buy to Sevilla the following season.

The Napolitano started off on the wrong note with his new side. He was stretched off the pitch in a summer friendly versus Watford after clashing heads with an opposing defender. He eventually recovered, but once again failed to impress after only scoring two goals in eight appearances for the first half of the season. Sevilla, like Dortmund, was not convinced, so they sent Immobile back to Torino on loan for the second half of the 2015-2016 season. Immobile re-discovered some form, scoring five goals in 14 appearances in his return with Il Toro.

BENEVENTO,- OCTOBER 29: Ciro Immobile of SS Lazio celebrates their second goal during the Serie A match between Benevento Calcio and SS Lazio at Stadio Ciro Vigorito on October 29, 2017 in Benevento, Italy. (Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images)

It seemed as if Immobile was best suited playing at home in Serie A, so Lazio acquired his services in the summer of 2016. Immobile was fantastic in his debut season for I Biancocelesti, scoring 23 goals in 36 league appearances. The following season, the current 2017-2018 campaign, has been Immobile’s best yet. He currently sits at 36 goals and 8 assists in 39 appearances spanning through all competitions. He has staked his place as one of Serie A’s elite strikers, and currently leads the way in the race for the Capocannoniere title.

His recent success with Lazio has lead many to believe he would be the right man to lead the front line for the Azzurri. Constantly starting under manager Gianpiero Ventura and Luigi Di Bagio, Immobile has floundered and has been responsible for embarrassing performances with the national team.

Italy’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup is a national tragedy, and much of this is in the hands of Immobile. Although Ventura’s tactics, formations, and player selections were questionable to even the most sporadic of viewers, Immobile was seen as a star player who had the qualities to have a moment of brilliance and take over a match. The finest of Serie A defenders struggle to keep Immobile at bay, yet he struggled versus the likes of Albania and Liechtenstein.

Italy managed to finish second in their qualifying group behind an overly superior Spanish side, but Immobile failed to find the back of the net in the Azzurri’s playoff matches versus the Swedes. Immobile last goal for the national team, in fact, came in September of last year in a home match versus Israel.

The striker was given the opportunity to potentially put his qualifying embarrassments behind him versus Argentina and England in international friendlies, but he once again looked lost on the pitch in the shirt of a once feared Italian side.

Immobile currently sits on seven goals in 32 appearances with the Azzurri. Although he currently dominates club play, it looks time for Italy to look elsewhere for another striker. The Azzurri must hope that Andrea Belotti regains his form after his knee injury that kept him out for much of the current season, or that the young Patrick Cutrone continues to dazzle for AC Milan. Immobile had his chances, but time has run out.

@ItalianFD

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Should Ciro Immobile be a starter for the Italian national team?

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