“When Ronaldo was confirmed at Juventus, I thought: ‘Thank God I had time to win the silver boot last year.”
Those were the honest words of last season’s leading scorer in Serie A, Ciro Immobile.
It’s a feat the Italian has achieved twice in his career, but the Lazio striker knows that completing a Capocannoniere (top scorer in Serie A) treble has just become more difficult.
The shocking arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus has led some to write off the title this season already, and the bookies certainly feel that the race to lead the scoring charts will be similarly one-sided.
The Portuguese icon is odds-on to win top goalscorer at most offshore books, but Bookmaker currently offers the best price on Ronaldo at +100. However, is such a short price justified?
I don’t think so. Especially since there’s a huge disparity between Ronaldo and second favorite Mauro Icardi (+625 at Bookmaker), and no other player is priced below +1000.
It’s fair to suggest such a prolific scorer should be the favorite, but the odds here suggest Ronaldo should win the award with ease, which is vastly underrating the talent in Serie A.
Serie A, the home of Catenaccio after all, is a league renowned for being somewhat defensive and certainly more tactically driven than a number of the other major European divisions. And while this assertion is a little outdated, to think that the adaptation from La Liga will be a cakewalk is perhaps hasty.
That’s not to say that Ronaldo will struggle to make an initial impact, but to imply that he will comfortably outscore players who have been there and done that in Italy’s top-flight is perhaps naive.
The figures of the top scorers in Serie A have risen in recent years after a slight lull after all. And while some would point to diminishing defensive standards, there are some superb marksmen in the league.
Immobile’s 29-goal haul was matched by Icardi last season, and the Inter captain’s supporting cast just got a whole lot stronger.
That’s the reason why the Argentine is the outright second favorite in the top scorer stakes. And while Icardi’s price indicates just how ahead of the chasing pack Ronaldo’s odds are, the bookmakers feel that if anyone can rival the new Juve man it will be Icardi.
The aforementioned Immobile is +1200 at Bookmaker despite scoring 52 goals in two seasons since making the move to Lazio, which puts him fourth, just behind Gonzalo Higuain (+1000). Higuain will be especially motivated since Ronaldo’s arrival triggered his move from Juventus to AC Milan.
He’s the type of proven and prolific number nine that the Rossoneri have lacked since the days of Fillipo Inzaghi, Andriy Shevchenko and more recently Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and a signing that the historic club will hope can help return them to their former glories.
Higuain will need to improve on last season’s modest return of 16 goals — of that there is no doubt — but he should benefit from being the main man once again.
That was certainly the case in his final season at Napoli, when the Argentinian broke the modern record for goals in a Serie A season in 2015-16, notching a remarkable 36 tallies in 35 appearances. A penalty-box finisher of the highest order when Higuain is at his best, if Milan can get that out of him, there is no reason he can’t compete again.
The last two realistic challengers, Edin Dzeko of Roma (+1300) and Dries Mertens of Napoli (+2300), are rightly considered longer shots in a market where every player is a dark horse aside from the stallion out in front.
With such short odds on Ronaldo, we can bypass him and instead hope that it takes some time for him to adjust to life in a new league.
That adjustment period makes a preseason flutter on a challenger more than a little tempting, and Icardi (+625) and Higuain (+1000) offer good value in this particular race.