When Alberto Gilardino signed for Fiorentina in the summer of 2008, it seemed as if it was a match made in heaven. In fact, as strike partnerships go, the one he struck up with Adrian Mutu soon after his move to Florence was about as heavenly as it gets.
However, after his recent comments to Sky Italia, Gilardino appears to have left the door open to a move away from the Stadio Artemio Franchi, something which seemed almost unthinkable not too long ago.
It was with Parma where Gila first made a name for himself, having joined the club in 2002, following Mutu to the Stadio Ennio Tardini from recently relegated Hellas Verona. An unremarkable four goals in 24 appearances for the Gialloblu in his first season was vanquished in some style by 47 goals in 72 Serie A games in the following two campaigns, form that not only landed him a move to Milan but a string of personal accolades too.
Bettering his tally with the Ducali was always going to be difficult at Milan, yet 17 goals in 31 games in his debut season for the Rossoneri had the young striker being touted as the heir to Filippo Inzaghi given their similarities. Gilardino was a similar height to Inzaghi, a not too dissimilar build, was not blessed with great pace and knew where the goal was. Aside from attributes, Inzaghi had also started his career at Piacenza and had played for Hellas Verona and Parma.
The move did not work out though, and despite winning the Champions League, Uefa Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup, Gila was on his way out after three years at San Siro. Perhaps it says as much about Gilardino’s perceived quality that 36 goals in 91 league games at Milan was deemed not good enough and that more was expected of him. When la Viola called, the lure of a return to Fiorentina where he had played as a youth, and the chance to play under Cesare Prandelli again proved too much.
In his first season with the Artemio Franchi outfit, Gilardino returned to form, bagging 19 goals in 35 games in Serie A, and added to Mutu’s 14, their combined 33 goal haul was enough to fire Fiorentina into the fourth Champions League spot for the second season running. It seemed Italy’s hottest striking talent had settled on the banks of the Arno and Fiorentina were back amongst the big boys.
The Viola’s league form the following season was indifferent though, eventually finishing 11th and exiting the Champions League in agonising fashion to Bayern Munich on away goals. Gilardino still managed 15 goals in Serie A but soon after that, Prandelli, the man who revitalised his career, was on his way to Coach the Azzurri and was replaced by Sinisa Mihajlovic. Last season, Gilardino found the back of the net on just 12 occasions, his worst goals tally since his final season at Milan.
He is now three seasons into a five-year deal in Florence and doubts over his future have surfaced with no new deal on the table for him. Gilardino has scored 133 goals in 288 league games with his last three clubs and perhaps craves some silverware to complement his impressive goalscoring record. Wherever he has scored goals in the past, like at Parma and Milan, he has left after the third year. Whatever route he chooses to take at the latest crossroads in his career, it will almost certainly be a route that leads to goal.