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Toni – a chance to get back to his best

When people describe Luca Toni, attributes like flair, pace and skill are not at the top of the list but something that Luca Toni does bring to a side, goals.

Luca Toni is an example of how a player can ply his trade in the lower regions of a successful footballing nation and rise to the very top of the game, which for him was being part of the World Cup winning side of 2006.

Playing with clubs like Fiorenzuola, Lodigiani, Modena and Treviso in his early career, Toni failed to make an impact, on a goalscoring front.  It wasn’t until he joined ambitious Serie B club Palermo in 2003 that Toni’s career clicked into place.  An amazing return of 50 goals in 80 games over a successful three year period which saw Palermo promoted to Serie A.  This impressive form caught the attention of Tuscan club Fiorentina, and Toni did not disappoint with more prolific goalscoring, 47 goals in 67 games.  From the doldrums of the Lega Pro, Luca Toni found himself winning the European Golden Boot for the most goals in Europe, scoring an incredible 31 goals for the Viola.

His impressive form on Italian soil was alerting the attention of scouts from Europe’s top clubs, and it was Bayern Munich who took the chance of Toni.  The Italian international continued his prolific goalscoring for the German giants, as he formed a formidable attacking trident with Franck Ribery and Miroslav Klose.

Despite his impressive goals tally for Bayern Munich, it was the introduction of new boss, Louis Van Gaal which inevitably ended Toni’s career at Bayern although Toni did not help his case when leaving the stadium after being substituted at half time in a crucial top of the table clash against Schalke 04.  This incident led to Bayern announcing that Luca Toni was free to leave in the summer but Roma were keen to bring the tall striker to the Olimpco in January.  Roma did snap him up, and this loan deal, possibly leading to a permanent move could have been a masterstroke from the tinkerman, Claudio Raineri.

There is no doubt that Toni has his critics in Italy and across Europe, but no one can argue with his goalscoring record over the last 5 years as he has propelled himself to be one of the marksman in European football.  With Roma unbeaten in their last 16 games now, he has also joined a side that is high in confidence and quickly becoming the only title challengers to runaway Inter Milan.

A detriment to the Roma side over the past few years has been the reliance on team captain Francesco Totti.  This signing will take pressure off of Totti, and allow him to play in the ‘hole’, a position that he can still be effective in, even at the later stages of his career.  Roma are also an attractive team to watch, with their own brand of Arsenal style passing which often brings up excellent wide positions for their wingers, and who better to be in the box for the Gialorossi but Luca Toni.

Toni is a player who uses his body to his advantage, holding up play, winning flick on’s and winning cheap free kicks.  In this way he is similar to Kevin Davies at Bolton, a hustle and bustle type of forward, like an old fashioned English centre forward, although admittedly, his scoring record is more clinical than that of Davies at Bolton.

The introduction of Toni has probably come to late for Roma to realistically win the title of Inter Milan, but the consolidation of Champions League football for the capital side is more than in their hands after a poor start under the now former boss, Luciano Spalleti.

One word of warning for the Raineri doubter, the tinkerman might have pulled off one of the signings of the 2010 January transfer window in bringing Luca Toni back to his homeland.  With two goals on his full debut against Genoa, Toni might just prove to be an inspired signing for Roma.

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