Lorenzo Pellegrini: Aiming for the Qatari stardust

Italy’s 2021 European Championship was laced with many feel-good stories, from Chiellini and Bonucci’s bromance building brick walls in the defense, Donnarumma’s repeated penalty heroics, and Jorginho’s blonde-haired Ballon D’or push, there were eye-catching stories all around. But of these many stories, Lorenzo Pellegrini would tell rather star in most. His story to tell, to star in, would have been the saddest and most anti-climatic of the lot.

Pellegrini was due to be part of the Italian squad after yet another impressive season with Roma, but an injury just days after the squad for the tournament was announced ruled him out of the Euros. 

Pellegrini had started to make a name for himself as one of the most reliable midfielders in Italy, but his best attributes were always his ability to break up play and carry the ball up the pitch for the more offensive minded players to use.

However, in the 21/22 season, playing under a manager for whom it is easier to shoehorn as “defensive” than it is to understand how he has been able to get the best attacking returns in the careers of some of the best offensive players in the world, Pellegrini has hit his own incredible attacking stride and he could end the season making personal history. 

With 11 games played so far in AS Roma’s topsy turvy season, Pelegrini has had steady contributions upfront and at this rate, the Roma captain is on course to score more goals than in any other season in his senior career. He has already scored five goals, just two goals shy of his previous best season in 20/21 where he registered seven goals for I Gialorossi. 

Currently Roma’s top scorer in the competition, Pellegrini is racking up more expected goals (xG) on average than ever before. His 0.32xG per 90 minutes far exceeds his previous best of 0.25xG per 90 minutes from the 2018/2019 Serie A season. To top that off, he is also finishing at a better rate than before, bettering his total expected goals by 1.5, compared to 0.6 last season. 

With the World Cup in 2022 looming temptingly in the distance, Pellegrini will no doubt be thrilled by this improvement which adds another layer of quality to a midfielder who is already highly rated both in the Serie A and also by his national team manager. Form like this means he will be an easy pick for the plane to Qatar and will have a sure shot at banishing the ghosts off his Euro miss. 

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