Going into the final round of games in Serie A, the majority of teams are already in relaxed states with their fate largely decided, save for the battle for the Champions League spots which has gone down to the wire.
Critics often accuse teams who have nothing to play for of already ‘being on the beach’ in these circumstances, but the same probably can’t be said for Crotone who have picked up four points from their last six, regardless of relegation from Italy’s top division.
Simy probably epitomises his team’s desire to bow out on a high after his late, late equaliser against Benevento in the penultimate gameweek of the season.
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The Nigerian’s leveller for the 10-man visitors saw the game end 1-1 and that stalemate was to have damaging ramifications for the hosts, whose exit from the big time was confirmed after Torino eked out a goalless draw at Lazio on Tuesday, rendering the final day encounter between Benevento and the Turin outfit pointless.
After going three games without finding the back of the net, it looked like the West African was just going to miss out on equalling last year’s 20-goal tally in Serie B, but his poacher’s effort to tuck away Pedro Pereira’s low cut-back saw him match his personal best return in club football.
The late leveller means Simy’s now joined the illustrious set of players to have hit 20 goals this term and he could go one better by surpassing his best-ever return from 2019/20.
The aforementioned five-player group also includes Cristiano Ronaldo (29) Romelu Lukaku (23), Luis Muriel (22), Dusan Vlahovic (21) and Ciro Immobile (20), further illustrating the Nigerian’s year-long brilliance in front of goal.
Observers may try to water down his return, owing to the volume of penalties (eight), ignoring that all but Muriel (two) have scored a high number of spot-kicks as well — Ronaldo, Lukaku and Vlahovic have converted six penalties each while Immobile has dispatched four from 12 yards.
Simy’s goals account for 44.4 percent of Crotone’s total of 45, which outdoes the Juventus star’s 39.7 percent, the Belgian’s 27 percent, Muriel’s 22 percent and Immobile’s 32.8 percent for the Old Lady, Inter Milan, Atalanta and Lazio respectively.
Only the Fiorentina youngster’s 44.7 percent of his team’s goals comes closest to the West African, and the two indispensable frontmen interestingly face off this weekend at Stadio Ezio Scida.
Vlahovic may be in awesome form right now, but his team continue to languish in the bottom half of the table.
The Viola have won two of their last eight games, with three defeats and as many draws, leaving them in 13th spot, four places below where they ended in 19/20. Clean sheets have been at a premium for the Tuscany outfit, too, with only two shut-outs in their last 14 games, a statistic that ought to give Simy hope of setting a new career-high on Saturday.
For someone who managed 10 goals combined in two previous Serie A campaigns, scoring double that amount in one season is worthy of recognition and it’s no surprise the forward believes he’s enjoying the best moment of his career.
“I’ve been in Italy for five years, the toughest league in the world for a striker. Crotone is a fantastic place, the people and club have given me everything and this is the best moment of my career,” the 29-year-old remarked after last week’s equaliser vs Benevento. “I think now the time has come to give even more.”
While Simy’s desire to remain in Calabria is taken, it remains to be seen if top flight teams will test the striker’s resolve, particularly after an amazing individual year.
Staying with the Pythagoreans could have consequences for his Super Eagles future, especially after Gernot Rohr’s bizarre assessment of the marksman recently.
Cosmi, though, values the striker and the Crotone boss praised his team’s resilience against Benevento having had Vladimir Golemic sent off after 24 minutes.
“A goal down, a man down for over an hour, nobody would’ve been surprised if we had given up, but we didn’t,” the pleased 63-year-old stated post-match. “We stayed in the game, we kept going and the substitutes did a great job in setting up the equaliser that had seemed impossible.”
“In my view, Simy is the player you saw today. He is a ruthless poacher in the box, but he can also really help the team and work for them.
"His penalties are impeccable," he added. "He is a player who in my view belongs in Serie A.
“It’ll all depend on where he goes and how he will be used in future, but I can say as his coach that he is an extraordinary young man and that is what every coach wants to know.”
He has certainly outgrown Serie B and after proving that he can cut the mustard in the big time, Simy definitely deserves top flight football. Without a doubt, even more observers will rave about the Crotone man if he reaches another milestone on Saturday.