Calcio Debate: Is Inter's Diego Milito The Most Clinical Striker In Europe At The Moment?

Goal.com's Subhankar Mondal says that the Inter centre-forward should get his due recognition.....
The Princess got fed up with the frog, took the ugly creature in her hands and frothing with annoyance and anger diluted by sheer hatred threw it against the wall. "Now will you be quiet, you horrid frog!". But to her amazement, instead of the vile creature meeting with a gruesome death, it transformed into "a prince with beautiful kind eyes" with whom she immediately fell in love.

Diego Milito's tale hasn't been a replica of 'The Frog Prince' and neither was he thrown against the wall, but the man, so conveniently nicknamed 'The Prince' (‘El Principe’), hasn't been quite 'liked' by the princesses of this world either, and instead of being thrown away for being too unglamorous, had been utterly ignored.

Until now.

Most of the Argentinian's playing career has been spent featuring for the less glamorous clubs of Europe and even in the second tier, and it is only now that Milito is playing for one of the biggest clubs of Italy that people are actually watching him and talking about him.

And those who are watching him must surely be wondering just how this 30-year-old striker had not been not picked up by one of Europe's bigger clubs. Signed from Genoa along with Thiago Motta for €25 million in the summer, Milito is currently the joint top scorer in Serie A with 13 goals from 19 appearances and also has three assists to his name.

Interestingly, Milito has had 21 shots on target while his strike-partner Samuel Eto'o has scored eight goals having taken 19 shots on target. As for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who left Inter for Barcelona at the start of the season, the Swedish international has 11 goals in 16 appearances in La Liga - a more 'open' league - having taken 27 shots on target.

The Prince Of Milan

Inter are Milito's first ever big club and should probably be his last too. His debut in Italian football was for Genoa in 2004 in Serie B and after scoring 33 goals in 59 matches he moved to Real Zaragoza for whom he netted 53 times in the league in three seasons. 24 goals and seven assists in just 31 Serie A appearances in 2008-2009 earned him a move to the Nerazzurri and now he simply cannot stop scoring.

Sunday night's goal against Milan in the Derby della Madonnina epitomised Milito's clinical ability. Although Milito scores most of his goals from inside the opposition's penalty area, he is not the usual goal-poaching mongrel: his runs, intelligence, ability to pick out his teammates even when they are not there and ability to shoot the ball from any distance from either foot mark him as a difficult player to mark.

It is tough to see any other Number 9 more clinical than he is at the moment, although Milito wears 22 on his back. In terms of 'pure goalscorers', there are just a handful of players who are great or aspire to be great. Ruud van Nistelrooy at his prime was the most clinical striker in the world (and by clinical we do not mean the best) but injuries have put the 'one chance one goal' striker's career into a perpetual decline.

Eto'o is more athletic and more complete but he has the knack to miss chances he shouldn't. Ibrahimovic is a genius but he is flawed. Fernando Torres is a more complete player and at Liverpool has started scoring too - he never reached the 20-goal mark in Spain for Atletico Madrid - but struggles with injuries. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar does possess Marco van Basten flashes and Van Nistelrooy's one chance-one goal touch, but he has not been given enough chances outside the Dutch League.

The only 'pure goalscorer' superior to Milito at the moment is a certain David Villa, who could score goals even with the goalposts removed and whom this columnist rates as the best striker in the world. Villa is technically more adept and does more than score goals - he creates them and brings his teammates into play - and it would be criminal to suggest that Milito is better than Villa. Since the 2005-2006 campaign, Villa has netted the ball 101 times in La Liga wheareas the Inter Prince has bagged 90 goals in league fixtures in Spain and Italy.
















Will El Diego Give El Principe A Chance?


But is Milito better than the rest, at least in his finishing and clinicality? Probably yes, at least at the moment. Antonio Cassano's insistence that 'El Principe' is "one of the best five strikers in the world" is not out of place.

All of which makes it rather strange that Milito has not been given his fair share of chances for the Argentine national team. In an environment where even the great Lionel Messi has suffered cold feet, it is only natural that Milito would fail to gel. Argentina do not exactly lack firepower upfront but keeeping Milito in the squad would guarantee goals. A true number 9, Milito is a natural goalscorer, is impressive at holding the ball and could be the perfect channel for the South Americans to score their goals created by Messi, Veron et al.

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