When Sardar Azmoun joined Roma from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer, Jose Mourinho finally succeeded in getting his mitts upon a striker who had slipped through his fingers at Tottenham Hotspur.
Azmoun, however, is not the only Giallorossi frontman who could have ended up in North London, had his old employers been a little more inclined to let him go.
Tottenham Hotspur simply left it too late in the instance of Andrea Belotti. Torino swiftly denied their proposal, which came on the final day of the transfer window in 2020. The Serie A club is not about to lose their top scorer and captain without enough time to find a successor.
“He has values that are crucial for being the captain of Torino,” sporting director Davide Vagnati told Sky Italia at the time. “We had a chat with Tottenham. But Belotti is too important for us.”
Tottenham tried and failed to sign Andrea Belotti
Labelled ‘one of the best strikers in Europe’ by former England boss Fabio Capello at the time, Belotti was hot property in 2020, only his enduring loyalty keeping the Italy international at a perennially mid-table Torino outfit.
His underwhelming performances since joining Mourinho’s Roma two years later, on the other hand, cast doubt on whether Belotti would have made the grade at Tottenham in the first place, the striker struggling to replicate his talismanic Torino displays at a club with bigger ambitions and bigger expectations.
Belotti has only scored eight goals in 54 appearances for Roma. Only two of them have come in Serie A, with the Euro 2020 champion spending the entire season without scoring in Italy’s top flight.
Mourinho demanding more
“Belotti seems to be suffering from this disease we have up front. Today I saw him do four or five heel touches,” an exasperated Mourinho said back in 2022, Belotti the latest in a long line of players to endure the wrath of the fork-tongued Portuguese (Goal).
“This is not him. He has to score. With his knee, with his backside, with his head! He has the virus of a playmaking wizard, whereas he just needs to score. That’s it.”
With two in six Serie A appearances so far this term, Mourinho will be praying that a corner has been turned. But like Azmoun – and following a couple of barren years since Tottenham’s interest came and went – the damage done to Belotti’s reputation will take some restoring.