x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Gilardino and Borriello find their Serie A careers intertwined

The two strikers have never played in the same Italy team and, after January transfer window moves, they could end up facing off for a starting spot at Euro 2012.

Gilardino, front, and Marco Borriello have never played together for Italy's national team. Filippo Monteforte / AFP
Gilardino, front, and Marco Borriello have never played together for Italy's national team. Filippo Monteforte / AFP

Alberto Gilardino and Marco Borriello must sometimes think their careers are being controlled by the same puppeteer.

In the first days of the January transfer window, the two strikers were the big movers within Serie A. For the next five months they will be monitoring one another's progress with interest.

Gilardino has joined Genoa from Fiorentina for around €8 million (Dh38.4m). Borriello has moved from Roma to Juventus on loan for an initial €500,000, with a clause allowing the deal to become permanent for a fee of €8m.

So the former AC Milan men are valued just about equally. They should, in theory, have about the same mileage left in them, too. Gilardino and Borriello are both 29 and will celebrate their 30th birthdays within three weeks of each other in the summer.

It is not impossible that Gilardino might be helping Borriello blow out the candles on his cake on June 18, perhaps just after both of them have contributed to an Azzurri victory over Ireland at Euro 2012. But it is unlikely.

In the four years since Borriello made his debut for Italy, he has never played in blue with 47-cap Gilardino.

They only briefly coincided at Milan, because Borriello was out on loan or at Genoa as part of a co-ownership deal for most of the three years after Gilardino signed from Parma for €25m.

When Gilardino left, having struggled to establish himself as automatic starter, Borriello would assume his status: a status somewhere lower in the pecking order than Alexandra Pato and even Pippo Inzaghi.

The common verdict is that Gilardino and Borriello were at Milan too young although the mid-20s are hardly naive years for a footballer, even at a club that valued experience as much as Milan did in the last decade.

More likely their styles did not quite suit the reign of Carlo Ancelotti as the manager.

Gilardino is an intelligent poacher, and good with his back to goal; the Milan of Kaka, dominant when Gilardino was there, favoured a counter-attacking game.

Borriello, a more limited player than Gilardino, is more of a target man.

The Milan of Ancelotti's later seasons were not constructed with high crosses as a priority.

Borriello might suit the current Juventus. Gilardino has the class to soar at Genoa. And as Italy's leading strikers, Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi, are out of action long-term, both hope they might jump back into Azzurri jerseys.

sports@thenational.ae