13 months ago Gianluca Lapadula notched up his 20th and 21st goals of the season for Lega Pro club Teramo in their 2-0 win over Pontedera. Today he is one of the most wanted Italian strikers anywhere in Europe after repeating his 20+ goal a season haul with Pescara in Serie B.
Supposedly on the radar of Premier League champions Leicester plus Serie A powerhouse Napoli, this rising star of calcio has also been linked with both Liverpool and Juventus in recent months. Where though has Lapadula come from and how has he gone from being a run of the mill third division forward into a coveted player by the champions of the richest league in the world.
One thing to get straight about Lapadula which can possibly be overlooked in his meteoric rise is the fact that he is not some spotty faced teenager but rather a more grizzled veteran. Lapadula is 26 years of age, and to some this might not seem old, but for a player of his vintage to suddenly go from slumming it out against Tuttocuoio and Santarcangelo to potentially playing in the champions league is just real fanciful stuff. Yet it appears to be happening before our very eyes.
Hell if you want to take the fairy tale story to even further lengths, Lapadula was playing in the Slovenian top flight only two years ago. A league that let’s face it doesn’t exactly have BT Sport or BEIN banging down the door for the rights to cover it.
However, it was in the wilderness of the Slovenian PrvaLiga where Lapadula’s talent finally got a stage to showcase itself. And once that talent was finally released from the bottle opposing defenders have found it mightily tough to get it back in.
His single year in Slovenia on loan at ND Gorcia (From Parma) was the first in his career that he would hit double digits when it came to goals scored. Even at that it was the bare minimum of ten, although he did score three in the cup also. Up until that point in his career the highest that Lapadula had got over the course of a campaign was five and that was with the Parma Primavera side. At the adult level his most was one, for both Cesena and Ravenna respectively.
Now though say the name Lapadula and you have Serie B defenders wetting their beds in fear at night. His displays have been so good that many have clamoured for Azzurri manager Antonio Conte to give him a shot in the national team.
While some may see this as hurting Italian national pride having to stoop down to the second tier to find a good enough striker, it is an option that should be taken very seriously. Not just for the fact that Lapadula is a goal machine but also because he is eligible to play for Peru through his mother. Something that has not escaped his or the nation’s attention.
For now, though what does the immediate future hold for the Turin native. Obviously he is not going to be wearing the shirt of Pescara come the start of next season, even if they are promoted to Serie A, so what colour jersey will he be wearing.
At the moment all signs point to Leicester City being the frontrunners to capture his signature. A move that would no doubt make the most financial success for the 26 year given the sickening wealth of the English top flight. But from a playing point of view does it make a whole lot of sense, naturally you would expect a number of the Foxes title squad to be poached in the summer, maybe opening up a place for Lapadula to succeed.
Also let’s not forget he has already proven that he is capable of adapting to life in another country and a new league. Yes, it may have only be Slovenia which is right next door to Italy, but this and the fact that let’s face it most of your run of the mill Premier League fans and pundits will not have a clue who he is may allow him to slip under the radar like Riyad Mahrez.
Back closer to home Genoa are believed to have formalised an offer with Pescara for him. Whether the player wants to go to the revolving door of transfers that is Genoa however is another question entirely.
Napoli are also said to have shown solid interest in him but if Gonzalo Higuain stays put he is definitely going to be the main man relegating Lapadula to a bit part role and it is hard to see him accepting that at this stage of his career.
Juventus are another who have expressed an interest although their motives are you would suspect much less in the players favour and more the club. With Lapadula being offered as bait to Sassuolo in return for the old lady getting Domenico Berardi.
In the end though ending up at Sassuolo may be the best thing in the long run for Lapadula. Having a talented young Italian manager who is not afraid to give fellow Italians a chance, plus it is seemingly a very well run club. Who knows are good year and a half there and anything is possible.
Two years ago Lapadula was playing in Slovenia, one year ago he was playing in Lega Pro, now he is the want of some very big clubs and no matter which he picks you suspect at the end of the day it is going to turn out alright for LapaGol.