x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Miroslav Klose showing no signs of slowing down

The German striker's goalscoring prowess has shown no sign of slowing up at Lazio.

Miroslav Klose, left, has impressed for Lazio this season.
Miroslav Klose, left, has impressed for Lazio this season.

Miroslav Klose returned to Rome yesterday after another successful night with his national side, expecting to be greeted at Lazio training by his new nickname.

"Half-the-team" is what some colleagues began calling the German striker just before the international break.

The moniker is based on empirical data. Lazio share top place in Serie A because they have 21 points. Klose's direct interventions, goals or assists, have been worth 10 of those points.

His head coach, Edy Reja, has already called Klose "the strongest footballer I have ever worked with". And Reja, who turned 66 last month, has been around a bit: Lazio are the 21st side he has coached at. Klose will not mind being singled out. His chief mission this season is to secure a place in history.

On Tuesday night, he took another important step in that direction by scoring his 63rd international goal in Germany's 3-0 victory in a friendly over Holland.

He is now just five short of Gerd Muller's German record of 68 strikes. Fitness permitting, he could well achieve the target before the end of Euro 2012.

Fitness permitting. That is an issue. Lazio had been concerned when Klose carried a knee problem away with him after a storming run had set up their winning goal against Parma just before the international matches.

Germany agreed to rest him for last Friday's friendly against Ukraine, but let him sate his hunger for his spot in his country's annals against the Dutch. He came through fine.

Klose is making an early case as the best buy of the last transfer window. Hiring him had carried an element of risk. Despite his importance for his national team, his role for the last two campaigns at Bayern Munich had been chiefly that of impact substitute.

He is 33, not an age that is necessarily a barrier to success in Italian football, but a late stage to learn a new culture, particularly one where central strikers tend to be more tightly marked, where the sorts of high crosses that Klose likes to exploit is less frequent.

But Klose has more to his game that just that. His movement is intelligent, his unselfishness sometimes underestimated. His status in Rome these days is not.

sports@thenational.ae