Yes, fanboys, he is in the team…
Welcome back to the penultimate entry of our Team of the Season series. Previously, we named our midfield, and today we name the front three of our Serie A team. In a league with three phenomenal strikers, picking these three spots was pretty easy, I will not lie. So because it was this simple, let us just get right into it.
Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan)
The best player in Serie A this season. The man who deservedly won Serie A’s MVP award. A man who overcame slander and heavy criticism after several difficult seasons for Manchester United to become an idolized player in Milan and one of the best strikers on the planet. Folks, we are finally getting the Romelu Lukaku we were promised.
Not just pace and power. Not just size and athleticism. All of football Twitter joked about a first touch of a boulder and saying he played like he was wearing Timbs. We are now seeing a complete footballer. A player who, yes, brings incredible pace and athleticism to the game, but also one who is incredibly comfortable on the ball, able to dribble past opponents, and combine with his teammates in flowing attacking moves. The partnership that he formed with Lautaro Martínez was crucial in guiding Inter to a dominant Scudetto triumph, and the incredible amount of confidence that Rom has in his technical ability at the moment is what allows him to be the league’s third leading assister while also leading the league in goal-scoring actions. This is the same player you all joked about for years, he is one of the best forwards on the planet now.
I mean, this was a guarantee. Probably the best player in Serie A this season, and one of the best and most complete strikers on the planet at the moment, Romelu Lukaku was a guarantee for a Serie A Team of the Season.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Yes, Ronaldo fanboys, it was impossible to keep your boy out of this team, even after the incredibly disappointing season from Juventus. Even with people saying that Juve might be better off without Ronaldo (and those arguments are fairly convincing), it was impossible to keep arguably the league’s best striker out of this team.
Ronaldo objectively was not as good this season as in previous seasons, but the stats do still jump out at you. The league’s Capocannoniere winner for the first time since he arrived in Turin, Ronaldo was the best goal-scorer in the league. While some of the other aspects of his game were lacking, not being the creative force that Lukaku was, for instance, he was still an incredibly lethal forward. He even showed an on-the-ball dribbling aspect of his game that many thought disappeared as he got older. Being in the top ten in players dribbled past in Serie A this season, Ronaldo showed that there is still energy and dynamism in those aging legs. He continues to resist the impact of father time and continues to play the game of a complete forward, instead of transitioning fully into a poacher.
Yes, he has not been as good at Juve as he was for Real Madrid, but he is still one of the best players in the world. And he is still an all-time great. He easily gets into this team simply for the peak of his performances this season being beyond what anyone else in the league can provide.
Luis Muriel (Atalanta)
And we finish this front three by highlighting maybe the best super sub in European football.
Luis Muriel is Atalanta’s leading goalscorer this season, and he is also third among all goalscorers in Serie A this season. He did this while only playing 1,436 league minutes and making 36 appearances but only 16 starts. He played less minutes than two other Atalanta forwards (Duván Zapata and Josip Iličić), and he played less than half of the available league minutes this season while scoring the third-most amount of goals of any player in Serie A. That is a bit crazy, right? On average, he scored over a goal per 90 minutes, his exact statistical total being a little over 0.1 less than Robert Lewandowski’s also insane goals per 90 mins stat. Incredible, right?
This is the story of Muriel, the Colombian ace who is seemingly one of the best strikers in Serie A but willing to stay in a team and work in a system where he is not a starter. You could argue that it is perfect for him. In an Atalanta team that is such an impressive unit and so capable going forward, being able to replace the larger and more powerful Zapata with a quicker and ruthless poacher like Muriel is dangerously effective, a strategy that takes advantage of exhausted defenses to incredible degrees. Muriel himself is very talented, but maybe he would not be THIS good if he was not playing for Atalanta? Probably, he is still very talented, but it says a lot about him as a footballer that he has not only willingly accepted this “limited” role, but he is thriving and making it his own. Regardless, he is still very worthy of recognition. Scoring a goal is not easy to do, and scoring at least one goal every 90 minutes is patently absurd, especially for someone who still played 36 league games. Team of the season worthy without a doubt.
And there you have it. After a long delay brought on by life circumstances, we have our Serie A Team of the Season forwards. Agree with my picks? Think I left someone out? Let me know in the comments below!
Join us next time (which I promise will not be massively delayed) where we wrap up the Team of the Season series with our Serie A honorable mentions.
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