Since the departure of Ola Toivonen, Melbourne Victory have struggled for firepower, but with the unveiling of Italian forward Francesco Margiotta, the 28-year-old could be the next big thing at the Victory.
Before the aforementioned Toivonen’s departure during the 2019-20 season, the Swede had the attack revolve around him, scoring 28 goals in 44 appearances for the club, including being responsible for 100 per cent of the Victory’s goals for a period of the club’s 2019-20 campaign.
Life without Toivonen would be tough for the Victory, finishing the 2020-21 season with the second worst scoring record in the league.
Additionally, the man brought in to be Toivonen’s replacement in former Premier League striker Rudy Gestede failed to hit the heights of his predecessor.
Though Gestede himself claimed before start of the 2020-21 season that he felt he could be more influential than Toivonen was, he ultimately never delivered, finishing the season with just five goals.
Having cleaned out the squad ahead of the new season, Gestede was released from the club and new coach Tony Popovic has brought in Margiotta bring some spark back to the Victory.
He knows how to find the net
Margiotta has proven he can be influential throughout his tenure in Europe. Since becoming a regular starter back in the 2015-16 season, he has not only been able to score frequently himself, but also set up chances for others.
He made 15 goal contributions in his 31 appearances for for Italian third-tier side Santarcangelo Calcio during the 2015-16 season. When making the step up a level the following season for FC Lausanne-Sport in the Swiss League, he was also impressive.
His best season of his career would come in 2019-20 with Swiss outfit FC Luzern, in which he made 20 goal contributions in 35 games (11 goals, nine assists), making himself one of the best goal contributors in the Swiss league that season in addition to taking out the club’s Golden Boot.
A move to the Italian second-tier with Cheivo Verona last season would also be a solid one, making nine goal contributions in which he scored five goals and assisted four, coming off the bench 14 times out of his 30 Serie B appearances.
Coming to the A-League with a pedigree for scoring and setting up goals, Margiotta has all the tools to be a success for the club this season.
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He fits Popovic’s style of play
Popovic prefers his striker to be a two-way player being able to be adept defensively as well as offensively, having the ability to drop back and help in midfield.
With Ben Folami, Nicholas D’Agostino and Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio the other attacking options, Margiotta is more suited for the role than his attacking teammates.
During his stints in Europe, Margiotta has played further down the pitch as an attacking and central midfielder in addition to being a centre-forward. Being able to drop back gives Popovic flexibility his other attacking options don’t.
On the front end, Popovic wants his strikers to be clinical and have the ability to find the net, which as previously mentioned is a great strength of Margiotta.
While Margiotta had nine goal contributions in the Serie B for Cheivo last season, Folami scored just three goals his 17 appearances last year for the Victory last season while D’Agostino scored just three in 12 appearances, largely playing as a rotation player.
Having struggled in the wilderness the past two seasons, the Victory can’t afford to linger down the bottom of the table any longer, hence Popovic will be looking to fast track their rebuild.
While Folami and D’Agostino are still developing and need to feature in order to improve, Margiotta is the best attacking option at the club’s disposal and his output will be key in helping the Victory climb the ladder this season.
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