Reports out of Italy suggest that Liverpool have contacted Borussia Dortmund and will attempt to sign a striker from the Bundesliga side this summer. Before Liverpool fans get too excited, though, it’s not Marco Reus they’re supposed to be interested in. Instead, it’s Ciro Immobile, the 25-year-old Italian international who has struggled in Germany following a breakout season with Torino.
In the 2013-14 season, Immobile was a star in Serie A, scoring 22 league goals in 33 appearances. Needing to replace the departing Robert Lewandowski, Dortmund saw the goals and snapped him up for €20M. He’s since provided a lesson in the differences between the pace and style of Serie A and Europe’s other top leagues. Despite having no major injury issues, he’s scored just three goals this season in limited action.
He’s made 19 league appearances, but only nine have been starts. He’s had a bit more luck in the cups—six appearances with four goals in the Champions League and two appearances with three goals in DFP-Pokal Cup—but it’s clear he hasn’t made the kind of impact Dormund hoped he would when they splashed €20M on him. That has in turn led to rumours he could be available for less than Dortmund paid for him last year.
Despite the limited minutes—or maybe because of them—his goal return isn’t as bad as it might first appear. He clearly struggles coming off the bench in the league for Dortmund, where he has a goal every 295 minutes, but taking cup competitions into account brings that down to a far more respectable goal every 156 minutes along with a 15% strike rate. He’s been an awkward fit for the Germans, but Immobile isn’t a bad player.
However, that he has been an awkward fit for Dortmund in the Bundesliga should be a massive red flag for Liverpool that he might not be the solution to the club’s striker problem. A player looking out of place for a side that looks to play uptempo football in a physical, technical league doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that he would settle quickly or easily at Liverpool in the Premier League.
There are often concerns about Italian attackers making the switch to one of Europe’s three top leagues, all of whom regularly see their football played at a higher pace and with more of a focus on speed and pressing than tactical discipline. In may ways, Immobile’s move to Germany has served as proof those concerns are valid, and Liverpool would be wise to avoid the temptation to see him as any kind of a bargain.