Ciro Immobile – Filling the boots

Ciro Immobile – his 22 goals in Serie last season earned him a move to Borussia Dortmund on the 2nd June. The 5 year deal was the result of European interest for the 24 year old striker, signifying a new chapter for Ciro; to fill the boots of Robert Lewandowski.

To presume Immobile can directly replace Lewandowski would be ludicrous. The Polish striker has proved his incredible scoring ability time and time again, domestically and in Europe.”I would caution against the idea that we will be able to replace Robert completely.” Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke admitted after the striker’s last game in black and yellow. Lewandowski has scored 74 goals over four seasons at BVB, hardly a casual statistic. However Dortmund’s sporting director Michael Zorc claims Immobile is a “versatile and dynamic striker who has established himself in a top European league in an impressive manner. His outstanding qualities fit perfectly with the profile required by Borussia Dortmund“.  Could Ciro Immobile seriously step up to the challenge of filling the void left by Bayern bound Robert Lewandowski?

Immobile scored 22 in 33 appearances for Torino. For a team that scored 58, the twenty four year old striker impressively netted 37% of their goals last season. Immobile had a goal per game ratio of 0.67 over the campaign, marginally better than Lewandowski’s (0.61) who also played 33 games. The Italian also has a better conversion rate; converting 25% of his shots into goals. His ability to finish cannot be questioned as these statistics’ show. As you would expect from a striker most of the goals originate from his stronger foot. However in Immobile goals, strong selections were scored from his weaker left foot (4 goals) and from his head (3 goals).  All these statistics suggest Immobile has the goods to seamlessly blend into an attacking Borussia Dortmund squad. But if he is to be the closest thing to a replacement for Lewandowski as Dortmund are going to get then Immobile will have to be at his best and more.

Lewandowski excels at the clinical finishing Immobile is most prolific at; in spite of that similarity Lewandowski has another element to his game. Lewandowski created 61 chances last season. Bear in mind Lewandowski lined up along side Reus and Mkhitaryan, throughout the majority of his last campaign at BVB, both known for expansive creativity. These chances were not just predominately down the middle as you would expect, a number of them originating from both flanks and his own half.  This statistic subtly but accurately describes Lewandowski’s energy on and off the ball.  The more aerial duels, attempted tackles, attempted take on’s and passes all lead to the understanding Lewandowski runs longer distances linking up the play and dragging markers with him. He is more than just a goal scorer. This energy infused quality is not seen in the Italians game which is partly why he was subbed off in almost 25% of his games for Torino.

Immobile has ability; you don’t score 22 goals in Serie A without a knack of knowing where the back of the net is. But compared to Robert Lewandowski he has holes in his game, especially in determination to be on the ball and open up play. However he is only 24 and has potential. In a way he is in a prime position to flourish. Expecting to start ahead of Ramos, Immobile will have the opportunity to develop his role and change his game at Dortmund. In parallel Klopp will be reassessing his attack in the weeks to come leaving a perfectly sized hole for Ciro Immobile to make a name for himself in the Bundesliga. With Adrian Ramos and Dong-Won Ji also fresh options to start, the pressure is relieved slightly from the Serie A top goal scorer. Only time will truly tell how well Immobile will fill the Lewandowski vacuum, but he will certainly make a mark on BVB.


Click on Ben’s name above to follow him on Twitter.