Stevan Jovetic and Giuseppe Rossi: The Next Great Serie A Strike Partnership?
Stevan Jovetic and Giuseppe Rossi are a lot alike. Both were snapped up while still very young—Jovetic by Fiorentina and Rossi by Manchester United—and both know what it's like to have a long lay-off through injury.
But while the Montenegrin has been allowed to develop slowly into one of Europe's most complete forwards, first in the ranks of Partizan Belgrade and then in Florence, Rossi's life has been a nomadic existence.
The New Jersey-born Italian made a high-profile move from Parma to Manchester United as a teenager and was tipped for the top. Since then, he's been anywhere but. A fruitless loan-spell in Newcastle disappointed before a more promising turn back in Parma.
Rossi's move to Villareal looked like it was a good fit for the forward. Still young, but plagued by injuries, he found a team in which he could develop his considerable talents without the pressures that come with struggling somewhere like Old Trafford. Free from problems in 2010-11, he scored 32 goals in 56 games and suggested that great things were to come both in La Liga and with the Italian national team.
Then came two anterior cruciate ligament injuries and Villareal's relegation to the Segunda Division.
The same injury kept Jovetic out for a season in 2010, but when fit he's been a regular starter—and scorer—for Fiorentina since his move in 2008, a club that though not without its troubles, has performed well on a limited budget: the perfect proving ground for a young striker.
Now, the Viola have them both. So are they Serie A's next great strike partnership? Sadly, the answer's probably in the negative.
Injuries have dogged Rossi since he was a teen and there are reasonable doubts about his ability to consistently contribute to Fiorentina's cause. The €35 million release clause in his contract is a measure of his potential, but the €10 million bargain that Montella got in signing him is just as telling. He's a gamble and he came in as damaged goods. There's no other reason for a 26-year-old Italy international to go for less than double that.
Of course, injuries hampered Robin Van Persie for much of his life at Arsenal, but we all know how Manchester United's gamble on the Dutchman has been working out. If Rossi's fit, he's a game changer. He's also a player with a lot to prove. He could be an incredible signing for the Gigliati.
Anyway, injuries aren't what will stop this pair becoming the peninsula's most dynamic duo. It's Europe's biggest clubs who threaten to tear them apart before they've even had a chance to show us what might have been.
Arsenal are reportedly desperate to win Jovetic's affections and are rumoured to have already made a £25 million bid. Juventus have been long-time admirers, and Manchester City are lurking around, too. And that's not even counting Napoli, who could have a lot of money to spend if Edinson Cavani moves on to pastures new.
Vincenzo Montella will need a miracle to persuade Jovetic to stay. Fiorentina are a side in transition, with a talented young coach and a squad full of promise, not least in Adem Ljajic, who Jovetic has known since their Partizan days. But crucially, it's unlikely they'll be in the Champions League. And that's where Jovetic belongs.
Given a couple of seasons, Montella might put together a team that can challenge on a continental level. Or he might not. His stock is on the rise and an offer might come that's too good to refuse. The league's getting stronger, and it won't be so easy for the Florentines to improve on their budget.
So what's Jovetic to do? The romantics among us will urge him to stay and complete an exquisite forward line with Rossi. But a leading role for a top Premier League side that competes in the Champions League is an offer no young striker could refuse. His new partner will know that better than anyone.
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