Marco Bell evaluates the Italy international hoping to make his mark against Kompany & Co. in the Champions League...
The 60 second story
- Date of birth: March 20, 1991
- Place of birth: Ascole Piceno, Italy
- Position: Striker
- Height: 6ft 1in
- Previous clubs: Genoa, Siena
- Current club: Roma; 52 apps, 25 goals
- International: Italy; 7 apps, 1 goal
Tenacious, skilful and cold-blooded inside the box, Mattia Destro is straight out of the old school centre-forward mould. At just 23-years-old, his one-in-two goalscoring record for Roma to date suggests a big future for the young striker in Serie A and Italy's national team, for whom he's already won seven caps.
Destro, the youngest player in over 40 years to score 12 Serie A goals in a season while at Siena, carried his impressive goals-to-game ratio to the capital city after signing for an initial €11.5 million in 2012.
After a blistering second half to the 2013/14 season for Roma, in which he netted 13 goals in 20 games (only 14 of which he started), Destro made Cesare Prandelli's provisional Italy squad for the 2014 World Cup, only to be dropped in the final cut. A strong-minded character, the snub only made him more determined to prove his worth. "I’ll get straight down to work for a great season with my club and the national team, which remains one of my main targets," he declared.
Why you need to know him
With Bayern Munich and Manchester City favourites to advance from Champions League Group E, Destro could be the one to ruin the party. The Italian played no part in Roma’s 5-1 demolition of CSKA Moscow last week, but is expected to be called upon again in the tougher group games where his physical presence will be required. Roma are strong at home, and Destro will fancy himself against a City defence struggling for clean sheets of late.
Destro has already proven that he has bags of talent – and this season will be about harnessing it. His promising career at Roma has been interrupted by injury and suspension, with flashes of brilliance staggered throughout the last two seasons. His aggressive nature landed him with a three-game ban in April 2014 after he punched Cagliari defender David Astori.
Destro could soon end up on English shores, however, having been the subject of strong interest from Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea over the summer. Roma president James Pallotta, however, declared he was "absolutely not for sale".
Roma will be bracing themselves for further offers if Destro continues to shine, although they're nothing new. "We receive offers continually because he’s a great player," said Pallotta, "but we have no intention of selling him."
(Just whack it on mute and you'll be fine. Goals start at 00:18)
Destro is of a similar style to Chelsea’s Diego Costa; a powerful player who can hold the ball up well, and is deceptively fast on the turn. An out-and-out goalscorer, he is ruthless when chances arrive (as the video above proves). Last season the striker averaged 0.95 goals per 90 minutes in Serie A, a record all the more impressive considering he was still working his way back from a serious injury and came off the bench a number of times.
The former Genoa hitman offers a target for Gervinho and Juan Manuel Iturbe coming in off the wings, with his instinctual movement allowing him to get ahead of his marker for what are often simple poachers' goals. Given his conversion rate, Destro is clearly a useful player to have around. Provide him with even just one quality chance during a game and there's a good chance he’ll find the net.
At the age of 23, Destro has already suffered two long-term knee injuries, and concerns around his fitness were raised last summer when he appeared rather bloated in a club photo. Looking after his body will be key if he's to achieve consistency in his play.
He could also do with working on his tracking back (or therefore lack of), and with a limited passing range he must make an effort to improve his play when Roma don’t have the ball. The 4-3-3 formation Roma play requires high stamina and work-rate from the lone striker if it is to work effectively.
Roma manager Rudi Garcia praised Destro after a hat-trick against Cagliari last season, saying: "He is a very complete attacker... he always gives his all on the pitch and always shows a great desire to win."
Jose Mourinho was aware of Destro’s prodigious talent at Inter Milan but could find nowhere to fit him in. "Everyone knew at the club that his potential was there to be a top striker," the Chelsea boss said earlier this summer. "He was unlucky because we had Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Adriano, then Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito."
Did you know?
Though he scored regularly for Inter’s youth sides (and Italy's too, with 16 goals in 14 for the Under-19s), Destro never actually started a competitive fixture for Inter, playing in some friendlies for the first team in summer 2010 before being shipped off to Genoa as part of an exchange deal for Andrea Ranocchia.
What happens next?
- Shooting 9
- Heading 7
- Passing 6
- Tackling 5
- Pace 8
- Dribbling 7
- Creativity 6
- Work-rate 7
Francesco Totti’s legs aren't going to keep him going for too much longer, so Roma need Destro to continue his development and show the maturity needed to lead the line. Revitalised under Frenchman Garcia, the Champions League hopefuls are the perfect platform for the young striker to really kickstart his career.
Scoring goals domestically will impress, but passing more testing battles against the likes of Vincent Kompany and Dante in the Champions League will rate more highly. For Italy, there's a new boss to impress in former Juventus chief Antonio Conte.
Destro has all the makings of a lethal striker, but must steer clear of distractions. One day he may wish to follow compatriot Ciro Immobile in moving abroad to satisfy his ambitions.