With Roma having a stellar Serie A season, Mattia Destro was playing an understudy role.
After last year where he started just 11 times, and missing much of late 2013 with knee issues, Destro is quickly ascending to a vital figure at Stadio Olimpico.
The 23-year-old bagged a stellar hat-trick today in a 3-1 win over Cagliari, and with it has 13 goals on the season in just 18 appearances. The young striker is averaging a blistering 85 minutes per goal, tops in the league.
Roma manager Rudi Garcia has recognized Destro’s growth as a player, telling reporters after the match, “Today he proved that he is not only a box striker, but a complete forward and he understood you have to give your all in every second of every game.”
While the Italian was just 1/6 passing in the attacking third, his received passes map shows great work in many areas around the pitch.
Garcia noticed this, and despite Destro still sitting behind Francesco Totti in the depth chart, the striker’s versatility is a huge asset to Roma.
“It’s true that when Francesco Totti isn’t playing, Destro is a very useful centre-forward,” said the manager. “Playing with the others he can only improve, but even when he plays out wide – even with freedom of movement – he can spread his influence in different areas. I don’t like any of my forwards to stay in a specific position.”
This exact sentiment is noticeable on the received passes map from the win at Cagliari, where Destro did some good work on the right flank.
It’s not Destro’s first solid Serie A season by any stretch. He amassed 12 goals in 26 starts for Siena as a 21-year-old, but injuries hampered his growth last year at Roma and kept him from contributing to a top Italian club.
Destro’s explosion is also a fantastic development for the Italian national side. With Mario Balotelli also just 23 years old, the team appears to be set at striker for a long time to come. In addition, if Destro proves himself consistent, Cesare Prandelli may have himself a quandary if Balotelli – brilliant on the pitch – does not improve his mental state.
Between Balotelli, Destro, Pablo Osvaldo, and Alessio Cerci, Prandelli’s striker situation is a conundrum – in a good way – for the 2014 World Cup.