Last Friday, A.C. Milan pulled off quite the swoop when they were able to capture the signature of Pescara star Gianluca Lapadula right from underneath the noses of Serie A rivals Juventus and Napoli.
It seemed all but certain that he would sign on with the Partenopei as Pescara’s club president Daniele Sebastiani pegged his prolific goalscorer to choose Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli. However, all it took was for Adriano Galliani to phone Sebastiani, tabling a sum of €9m plus bonuses of 1 million to the newly promoted club before the player initiated his intent to join the Rossoneri.
Lapadula, aged twenty-six, has bounced around from club to club his entire career. In fact, he has played for eleven clubs spanning Lega Pro to Serie B having not spent more than one year with any of them. With Pescara, Lapadula was able to shine the brightest than at any point during his career in 2015-16, amassing 30 goals in forty-six appearances. His massive eruption for Massimo Oddo’s Delfini was key in helping the Abruzzo win the Serie B title, earning promotion back to the Italian top-flight for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
Now some would assume that given the unstable environment at Milan and the uncertainty surrounding the ownership that Lapadula would stay far away and choose a title contender. However, Juventus have aspirations of winning more than just their sixth consecutive Scudetto; they crave the podium of the UEFA Champions League final. With these dreams comes the influx of star players at nearly every position within Massimiliano Allegri’s side, leaving no guarantees for Lapadula to play consistently.
As for Napoli, the second place finishers from last season have an abundance of attacking options, including Gonzalo Higuain, Dries Mertens, Manolo Gabbiadini (who has been criminally under-utilized in the past few seasons), Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon. Simply put, Milan offered – and promised – Lapadula that he would be a fundamental component to their squad next season. At the age of 26 and having already moved more times than the average footballer, stability was key in Lapadula’s decision to choose Milan over league rivals, even if it meant passing up hardware elsewhere.
For many fans of the Rossoneri, Lapadula was a bit of an unknown. Yes, they’ve heard the name, watched the Youtube videos and listened to stories about his journeyman-like career. But most were unaware of his qualities as a striker.
In the air, he is very strong despite being 5 foot 10. Physically, he has the ability to fend off centre-backs, making him a pest to mark. Exceptional positional awareness is arguably one of his best attributes; he often takes advantage of gaps in the backline and has the clinical thirst for goal in and around the penalty area. Last season, Carlos Bacca fell victim to the creativity issues at Milan, but still managed to score 18 goals while being more of a box poacher. For Lapadula, link up play is a strong suit which we saw at Pescara last season playing alongside Gianluca Caprari.
Lapadula signed a five-year deal with Milan, keeping him in the fold until June 2021. Under this new contract, it’s understood that he is set to make €1.2m per year, which is a club friendly figure for Milan who’ve punished themselves in recent years taking on handsome wages to compensate for non-existent transfer fees.
With Lapadula now officially a member of the Lombard club, time will tell if he could translate his dominance from the Serie B up to the top-flight of Italian football.