The Italy and Torino forward struggled for form and fitness after a sensational 2016-17 season but he is firing again for club and country
In 2017, Andrea Belotti showed up on the radar of several big clubs thanks to a stunning season in front of goal for Torino.
Having struck 26 times in just 35 Serie A games, the former Palermo forward was being linked with the likes of AC Milan, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
However, with a €100 million (£86m/$111m) release clause that was only applicable to foreign clubs and Torino present Urbano Cairo refusing to sell to another Italian club, Belotti ended up staying put.
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Though the 2017-18 season started strongly enough, with three goals from his first five games, a knee injury in October sidelined Belotti for three games and when he returned to action, the goals simply didn’t follow suit.
After going six matches without finding the back of the net, Belotti did end his drought against Napoli, only for a knee injury to strike him down again not long after.
While a hat-trick later that season against Crotone ensured he did hit double figures, the striker’s return of just 10 league goals ensured the likes of the Red Devils quickly withdrew their interest.
“Two or three years ago, I said that [Belotti] had impressed me the most since [Andriy] Shevchenko, but now he is going through a difficult time,” ex-Palermo boss Gennaro Gattuso said in 2018.
“When he is well, he has great physical strength and he is a complete player. He plays well and is impressive in the air. In recent years, he has done important things.
“He is a good guy, with a good head on his shoulders and that is what I liked most. I worked with him for only 20 days, but I remember them with pleasure. If a player has those qualities and that desire to improve, results will come.”
Desperate to prove he could indeed bounce back, Belotti managed a more respectable 15 Serie A goals last season but failed to attract the suitors he had just two years ago.
With a a massive release clause hanging over his head, it was going to take something special to start turning heads again and Belotti looks poised to do just that this season.
Before Torino’s league campaign even began, the 25-year-old quickly familiarised himself again with the back of the net as he scored with ease in Europa League qualifying.
Belotti struck six times across six appearances for Torino as they ultimately missed out on the group stage after falling 5-3 to Wolves on aggregate.
While a setback for the club, the qualifiers have proven the perfect springboard for their star striker, who is well and truly shining again in Serie A.
Scoring in Torino’s season opener against Sassuolo, the goals have continued to flow for Belotti, with the Italian’s double in September against AC Milan securing his side a surprise 2-1 win.
Both of Belotti’s goals that day were a timely reminder of his killer instinct in front of goal, with his first coming courtesy of a powerful effort from the top of the box, before he improvised brilliantly from close range to score via a bicycle kick.
Across seven Serie A games to date, Belotti has struck fives times and he’s managed to take that form into the international arena with the Azzurri.
Handed a start in Italy’s most recent Euro 2020 qualifier against Liechtenstein, the Torino attacker bagged a double in a 5-0 win to stake his claim for more starts up front for Roberto Mancini’s side.
“Liechtenstein brings me luck, especially playing here, as I got a brace here last time too,” Belotti told Rai Sport post-match.
“You can see there’s an Italy side with more conviction, more desire to do what the coach says and follow the very clear ideas we considered from the start to be wise.
“You can see we’re doing some wonderful things on the field, especially compared to the ugliness of two years ago.”
Firing again for club and country, Belotti looks set to put himself back on the radar of Europe’s biggest clubs over the coming months.
Another 20-goal season may even make his €100m release clause a price worth paying, particularly for a side like United, who are in desperate need of goals.
Unlike current Red Devils target Mario Mandzukic, Belotti is only now coming into his prime at 25, and once again proving himself against Italy’s best defences, would surely prove a menace for many years to come in the Premier League.