Luca Toni: The Italian marksman rolling back the years

Luca Toni, 37 years of age and this season the 2006 World Cup winner, is amongst the top goal scorers in Serie A with 15 goals –that deserves credit.

He is certainly regarded as a journeyman, in a career spanning 21 years, the 6ft 5 inches striker has played for 16 clubs. Those clubs include the likes of Palermo, Fiorentina, Roma, Juventus and Bayern Munich.  He has scored goals almost wherever he has gone, 50 goals in 80 games for Palermo, 55 in 94 for Fiorentina are among his best.

The tall centre forward is now into his second season with Hellas Verona. He joined the club on a free back in 2013 after they were promoted from Serie B. The side wanted a clinical finisher up top, somebody who will put away the chances they created, they certainly got that with Luca Toni.

Toni’s debut season with Hellas Verona was a tremendous success; it all started off from the first game of that season against giants AC Milan. The veteran scored twice as Hellas beat Milan 2-1 in a match that kick started their season and raised eyebrows all over the country.

At 36, Toni finished the season with 20 goals and was second in the race in the top scorers’ charts, behind Ciro Immobile. This incredible achievement helped Verona finish 10th position. Brilliant for the side who just achieved promotion.

With an instinctive finishing ability and a highly dangerous aerial threat, Toni is one of the last traditional centre forwards. He has not lost any pace, as he did not have any in the first place! His positioning and movement makes him a nightmare for defenders to mark. You could be forgiven to thinking it was 2005 rather than 2015.

The Modena born player has kicked on this season too. As mentioned, he has netted on 15 occasions, with 9 of those coming in the last 7 games. It comes as no surprise that the majority of his goals are within the box, see graphic: (Source – Squawka).

 

toni 3

 

 

The standout performance for me was when Hellas Verona defeated Champions League chasing Napoli 2-0 on March 15th. Luca Toni scored both goals – his 12th and 13th.

The forward had scored 5 times in 13 previous meetings with the Partenopei, making them one of his favourite opponents, and it proved to be the case once more. Toni fired the first after just 7 minutes, showing strength to turn the defender and fire a shot past keeper Rafael. The forward bagged the brace early in the second half when she slid in to meet a cross by teammate Emil Hallfredsson.

This sort of performance has lead to many Italian supporters encouraging Antonio Conte to call him up for the Italian national squad. Toni’s last appearance for ‘Gli Azzurri’ was in 2009 – included in the squad for the Confederations Cup in South Africa.

I would be surprised if the 37 year is called up again anytime soon, with the former Juventus coach looking to build a team for the future.

Hellas Verona are currently ranked 15th in the table, 12 points from safety. The side coached by Andrea Mandorlini aren’t quite replicating the form shown last year, but ultimately, Serie A safety is an achievement for the club.

Luca Toni has an expiring contract this summer; I would expect the club to offer him at least one more year, just like they did at the end of last season.

 

Originally published for O-Posts

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