The key strengths of Amauri - being strong in the air and quick with his feet - have unfairly been overshadowed by his failure at Juventus...
Italian calcio has always been associated with lethal bombers, or goal-scorers, as much it has been with monstrous defenders. Names such as John Charles, Van Basten, George Weah, Filippo Inzaghi, Christian Vieri, David Trezeguet, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Andriy Shevchencko come to mind, with one such goalscoring legend, Hernan Crespo, giving a tearful press conference this week announcing he had mutually terminated his contract with Parma at the grand old age of 36.
Sadly, the initial prognosis that Amauri, the lanky Italo-Brazilian who was signed by Juventus in the summer of 2008 for 22.8 million euros, would take his place amongst the afore mentioned greats soon degenerated from hope to delusion from media and fans alike.
A big signing for the 2008/2009 season, Amauri was intended as a statement of intent that Juventus was well and truly back in Serie A, having finished a respectful third the previous season under Claudio Ranieri as the club defied all odds after promotion from Serie B.
A blistering start to the season followed, with Amauri scoring 10 goals in the first half of his debut season alone, offering a link between the midfield and attack as well as conjuring up moments of magic that would lead to early comparisons between Internazionale player Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Sad to say, his initial success, along with his club’s, soon went downhill from there, with Amauri only scoring twice more in the second half of the season.
His next seasons went from bad to worse. With hope still lying in him by the fans at the start of the 2009/2010 season when a wave of optimism had arisen after playing alumni Ciro Ferrara returned as club manager to sign Brazilian playmaker Diego, he went on to dash everything with only six goals in thirty matches, looking ever more disjointed with the team’s play in the process.
Promises to score 20 goals in the following 2010/2011 season proved to be his undoing as he failed to act on it entirely, subsequently being farmed out to Parma where out of nowhere, he rediscovered his Palermo-form, embarking on several of his trademark rampages to score 7 goals in 11 games.
Truth be told, Amauri has never been a bad striker. His poor form earned the anger of Juventus tifosi and the current board over the span of his four seasons at the club, especially given he refused transfers away despite being relegated to the reserves on a 3.8 million euro salary. Nevertheless, more value and merit to the player can be drawn from an in-depth analysis of the time he spent at Juventus, the bugbear most commonly associated with his failure.
A Juventus side still finding its feet after relegation was never exactly the stablest of platforms for a player who was making the step up for the first time to succeed on. A flawed transfer strategy and tactical identity could be blamed for Amauri’s failure at Juventus instead, with a lack of clear ideas and foresight on club and managerial level the bane of his stay.
His destructive goalscoring returns very early in his Juventus career hinged on having a suitable foil in the form of Del Piero beside him, but those disappeared when Claudio Ranieri begin opting for Vincenzo Iaquinta in the captain’s place, with neither Iaquinta nor Amauri being able to complement the other. Injuries to an emerging Claudio Marchisio and Cristiano Zanetti resulted in almost no midfield direction from incumbents Christian Poulsen and Tiago Mendes, leaving Amauri to feed on scraps.
An overworked Diego in 2009/2010 was never going to be able to supply Amauri with what he needed to score, while in 2010/2011, Juventus were well and truly into a transition phase having finished seventh the previous season, a rut too much to expect for just one man to stop. Such omens point to the possibility that even Giampaolo Pazzini, the Italian international who was a reported transfer target of Juventus in 2011, would never have succeeded at the club either due to their similar styles of play not suiting the Juventus of that time.
Tailor made for systems of wing play with crosses, as well as an able supporting striker beside him, the constant change in systems brought about by coaches coming and going were of no help, with unclear designated sources and passeges of play leading to Amauri charging around like a bull seemingly without purpose.
Associations with him being strong in the air, quick with his feet, and a good team-player with a sharp eye for goal the pass may have become diluted after his non-seasons with Juventus, the only big club he has played for, but they have shone through on the middle stage at both Palermo and Parma, where faith commonly invested in him yielded devastating goalscoring returns.
With Amauri perhaps always having been a big fish in a small pond, his recent move to Fiorentina may not have been greeted with much optimism, but it stands both player and club in good stead. Expect Amauri to develop into the focal point of attack there, with the Viola‘s tactical system of having a good crosser like Juan Manuel Vargas as well as an able support man in Stevan Jovetic supplying him the ammunition needed to score. Now 31, Amauri still has the time to make an impression and go down as one of calcio‘s modern, albeit lower-key, bombers.