Heir to Lewandowski’s throne? Genoa striker Krzysztof Piatek is the new Polish sensation

Piatek

It has been nothing short of a fairytale season for Polish striker Krzysztof Piatek. Joining Genoa, he is now leading the race for the European Golden Boot. Last night, he capped it off with his first goal for Poland in his first competitive game. So, who exactly is this new Polish sensation taking Europe by storm? 

When Genoa signed Piatek this summer, many including their fans were doubtful. The striker wasn’t known much in Europe. And Genoa, a side always battling it out in the middle and lower half of the Serie A, could really do with an out-and-out striker. But was Piatek the man for them? That was the question. And judging by the overall reaction then, the answer was a firm no!

Who would put trust on a virtual nobody? Someone whose only notable achievement thus far was being the third highest goalscorer in the Polish league last season. And the money, €4 million, was also questioned. With that money, one would rather go for a player who is known for his capabilities rather than an almost untested one.

With all these uncertainties surrounding him, Piatek started his Italian adventure. Very few would have had high expectations of him. And this was Piatek’s biggest advantage. For this was the motivation that would unleash his true abilities in his very first season in Italy.

Piatek’s debut showed everything one needed to know about him. Against Lecce in the Coppa Italia, the Polish striker scored all of Genoa’s four goals, including a hat-trick in the opening 19 minutes of the game. Genoa fans were stunned. With just one match, the hype around him skyrocketed. And it was just the beginning.

In his Serie A debut, Piatek only took six minutes to open his account in a 2-1 win over Empoli. All those doubting him suddenly joined the bandwagon singing praises of him. Piatek’s deadly accuracy, brilliant dribbling and pace make him a nightmare for every defender. And in Serie A where the defenders aren’t always known for their pace, that was exactly what Genoa were looking for in their ranks.

Piatek has been the shining light for Genoa this season. And that is what has happened when they were losing as well. Against Sassuolo in a 5-3 loss, Piatek scored twice. In the following week, Genoa were thrashed 4-1 by Lazio. Guess who scored Genoa’s goal? In that game, Piatek became only the second footballer after the legendary Andriy Shevchenko back in 1999 to score this many in their first four Serie A appearances. Italy were shook.

Genoa fans were flooding the streets and stadiums with banners showcasing love for their new hero. Piatek was already firing on all cylinders when he didn’t have the slightest of backing from the supporters. And with all of them rallying behind him, there only ever was going to be one outcome.

After the Lazio loss, Piatek scored braces against Chievo and Frosinone making it eight goals in six matches. This is the best start to a season by a debutant since Karl Aage Hansen way back in the 1949–50 campaign. Piatek didn’t stop there. In the following match, Genoa were defeated 3-1. But the game had a historic significance as Piatek became the first player since Gabriel Batistuta, in the 1994-95 season, to score in all of his first 7seven Serie A appearances. Records kept tumbling, Europe kept obsessing over.

The best feature of Piatek is not that he is a goalscorer. It is that he’s not just a goalscorer. He is much much more than that. He is a brilliant linkup player as well. His aerial abilities are also very good. He is quite a busy player, always looking for the ball. And despite being a striker, he is never shy to track back and win the ball in the midfield. That was fully on display last night against Portugal. He tracked back often, allowing his senior strike partner Robert Lewandowski to go up further the pitch. His goal last night was just the icing on the cake for him in what has been so far a brilliant season.

It’s still early days, but the fight and resilience shown by Piatek are brilliant for Genoa and Poland. With him in the form of his life, Genoa are up to 12th in the table and can break into the top half as they’ve played one match less. And in him, a young striker who still has plenty of room to improve, Poland can bank on for the post-Lewandowski era.

The virtual nobody most people dubbed to become a ‘miss’ is now one of the biggest ‘hits’ of the season. Both Genoa and Poland would be thinking Piatek keeps on going for the betterment of both his club and country.

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