Is Simy’s move to Salernitana worth it?

The lanky Nigerian forward joined the newly-promoted side this summer.

Simy Nwankwo (Instagram/Salernitana)

Simy Nwankwo isn’t just any football player, but a man oozing with goals, capable of finding the back of the net against any opponent on a consistent basis.

He’s become a household name in Italy since he joined Crotone from Portuguese outfit Gil Vicente in 2016.

Crotone were in the Serie A for the first time in their history during the 2016-17 season. Simy didn’t start well, scoring just three goals but the Calabria-based team beat the drop. There was a slight improvement from Simy the following season, but it was only an addition of four extra goals and this time Crotone could not survive relegation as they finished in 18th position.

Simy stayed back with the team and it was in Serie B he took his goalscoring prowess to the next level.

It might be the second tier of Italian football, but the Serie B is highly competitive with six teams placed third to eighth jostling for the final promotion spot to Serie A, the first two being automatic.

In Simy’s first season as a Serie B player, he scored 14 goals in 36 appearances, but it was not enough for Crotone to return to the Serie A as they finished 12th.

It was in the 2019-20 campaign Crotone came all guns blazing, winning 20 games from 38 as they sealed second place to book an automatic return to the Italian top-flight. Simy scored 20 goals and finished as Serie B top scorer.

It was again another struggle for Crotone in the Serie A during the 2020-21 season as they finished in 19th place, 14 points from safety, losing 27 games and only winning six. The difference though was Simy.

The Nigerian forward scored an impressive 20 goals, which is a record for a Nigerian in Serie A. His tally was also the fifth highest for the campaign, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo(29), Romelu Lukaku(24), Luis Muriel(22), and Dusan Vlahovic(21).

After such a strong display, it was natural for Simy to be linked with a move away from Crotone as he couldn’t be playing second tier football after doing so previously for two seasons.

The likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio, Fiorentina, Genoa and Mallorca, were linked with Simy but it was another newly promoted side in Salernitana that snapped him on loan with the option to buy.

It’s not been a great start for the Granata who are appearing for in Serie A for the first since 1998. They’ve already suffered loses to Bologna and AS Roma and there are fears there’ll be more of such.

Simy has already provided one assist in the opener against Bologna, playing the ball into the path of Senegal midfielder Mamadou Coulibaly, who scored a curler that gave Salernitana a short-lived 2-1 lead.

It is certain Simy will get goals, maybe more than his tally from the previous season, but it begs the question of whether Salernitana is good for the lanky forward?

Before this recent promotion, Salernitana had only played in the Serie A twice previously (1947–48 and 1998–99). In both seasons they were relegated instantly.

The club faced bankruptcy in 2005 and started as a new club in 2011 from Serie D, gradually making up their way up each tier until they reached Serie B in 2015, where they remained until their 2021-22 promotion to Serie A.

Salernitana’s rise to the top is a fascinating one, but their lack of history in the Serie A doesn’t help their cause that much and all this points to a potential struggle all season long where they’ll be the whopping boys.

Things can change rapidly in their favour though, but on paper, it does not look likely.

Should Simy get goal tally in the 20s like he did last term, it will definitely be a boost to his profile as a prolific scorer, but should Salernitana relegate, it doesn’t help him.

However his consistency will certainly get the attention of the more established sides in Italy and elsewhere in Europe this time. Its hard to score consistently for a relegation-threatened side and remain there. There will definitely be notice at some point. A player like Paulo Dybala who moved from Palermo to Juventus, easily comes to mind.

Simy’s track record therefore shows he deserves to play with more established teams higher up the log because that is where his talent belongs, and not a team at the tail end.

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Kunle is an avid writer with interest in topics on sports, politics and health. His articles have featured in Goal.com, Opera News and Vanguard News. He holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in International Relations and is an advocate for people living with Hydrocephalus and other neurological conditions.

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