In the current day and age, football fans are becoming increasingly reliant on stats with the Moneyball approach gaining popularity.
Perhaps the fast nature of our modern lives is preventing us from catching all the action on display. Thus, with so much going on and little time on our hands, we might resort to highlights or stats to help us come up with certain conclusions.
But needless to say, the numbers can often be misleading, and one can argue that the scoring stats of the Juventus strikers depict how the figures could guide us towards misconceptions.
Ten rounds into the season, Dusan Vlahovic and Federico Chiesa are leading the club’s scoring charts with four goals each.
While these aren’t spectacular figures by any means, they’re respected tallys considering how the club tends to play barren football at times, making life miserable for the frustrated strikers and fans alike.
On the opposite end of the spectrum lies Moise Kean with striking ZERO goals.
And yet, here we are pleading the case of a striker whose yet to place his name on the scoresheet this season, wondering if he should be in the starting lineup ahead of a teammate who has four goals to his name.
Well, football algorithms aren’t that simple, one might note.
Yes, Kean is yet to officially “score”, but those who have been following his displays closely since the start of the season would have surely noticed a comprehensive improvement in his game.
The 23-year-old is finally coming into his own as a modern striker, combining physical strength with a menacing pace and blossoming dribbling skills to present himself as an absolute thorn in the back of opposition defenders. Just ask Milan’s Malick Thiaw who earned himself a red card for failing to contain the Italian forward.
Unfortunately, the former Everton man has been extremely unlucky. He already has three goals disallowed this season.
Nevertheless, his first ruled-out strike against Verona displayed his vast improvement, almost taking on the whole defense before finding the back of the net with a long-range shot.
Naturally, Kean still has to work on his final touch, as his knack for wasting glorious chances remains his Achilles Heel.
That being said, one would argue that Vlahovic also tends to waste easy opportunities in front of goal. And unlike Kean, the Serbian lacks the ability to dribble and create havoc with a solo effort.
Just like Arkadiusz Milik, the Italian striker was only able to secure a starting berth following the injuries of Chiesa and Vlahovic.
So with the former Fiorentina duo now regaining their best physical conditions, they will likely have a strong claim for starting spots against their former employers next weekend.
But should Max Allegri review his pecking order amidst Kean’s recent exploits?
First, most of us would agree that Chiesa must be an automatic starter barring any injuries. The Euro 2020 winner offers a unique skill set. He’s the only one able to genuinely interpret the second-striker role, even though he’s originally a winger.
Therefore, Kean, Vlahovic and Milik are left to battle for the Number 9 role.
Ruling the Polish star of the equation would be unfair considering his consistent contributions. The former Napoli has always proved to be a reliable presence up front, but it seems that he’s willing to settle for a super-sub role, and even thrives in it.
Therefore, the real duel is between the young duo of Vlahovic and Kean.
At the moment, Allegri might be unwilling to scramble with his hierarchy, preferring to maintain the status quo. Moreover, the Serbian remains the club’s biggest investment in recent years, a fact that shouldn’t be undermined.
However, Kean is certainly gaining ground and is now breathing down his teammate’s neck. If he keeps showcasing his ever-improving skills, Allegri won’t be able to deny him a starting spot for too long.
But while the midfield and defense have been stripped to the bones, the battle for starting spots up front is a welcome dilemma.