The battle for the Serie A title has always been contested by great centre-forwards.
From Christian Vieri to Gabriel Batistuta, from Dario Hubner to David Trezeguet, Andriy Shevchenko and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Italian championship again has great No 9s that will have the task of dragging the best team in Italy to the top of the standings.
At this moment, it is 99 per cent likely that the new top scorer of the 2022/2023 season will come from the strikers of AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Roma, Napoli and Lazio – but there could be sensational surprises coming from players who are currently being given little thought to.
Here, a look at the runners and riders in a fascinating race for the Golden Boot.
Immobile is the player who offers the most guarantees and whom Maurizio Sarri wants to transform into Gonzalo Higuain’s heir.
He has scored 182 goals in Serie A and won his fourth top scorer title last season.
In the three points era for each victory, Shevchenko scored 123 goals in the first 200 Serie A games with Milan and Trezeguet 119 with Juve.
Only two forwards did better than Immobile: Giuseppe Meazza with 147 goals in 200 appearances for Inter between 1929 and 1939, and Gunnar Nordahl with 166 goals after the first two hundred in the league with Milan between 1949 and 1954.
Neapolitan striker Immobile has smashed the goalscoring records of Lazio strikers, reaching a milestone achieved only by Nordahl in Serie A. Winning this special ranking for the fifth time would make him the best striker for goals scored in the history of Italian football.
This season will be crucial for Victor Osimhen because without Dries Mertens he will have to prove that he is a leader of the dressing room.
Osimhen is a fast and powerful player who can take Napoli to the top and who can win the top Serie A scorer, but to do so he will need a lot of intelligence and a lot of ability to manage the difficult moments of matches.
His fragile character can be a problem but this will be a decisive season for the overall judgment of a striker who has all the qualities to become one of the five strongest forwards in Europe.
Club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has declared all his players have a price but has always put the Nigerian forward on the list of non-transferable players.
Osimhen is also a hugely popular figure in the eyes of the fans at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium.
He could be the most pleasant surprise of Serie A; he can be the player who surprises the defenders and in a few months becomes a top player with great room for improvement.
After his experience at Genk, Dessers had dreams of playing in Serie A. One of the most illustrious leagues in the world can be the stage where he shows his qualities as a modern No. 9 and Cremonese can be his springboard.
Attackers from Belgium and Holland in Italy have always achieved great results and Dessers could become the most underrated and subsequently the most surprising player next season.
Probably all Inter fans have a certainty: if Lukaku returns to his athletic peak and regains his ideal weight of 105kg, he will have no difficulty in becoming the King of Serie A goalscorers.
The Chelsea flop is one of the most hotly-anticipated summer signings, having returned to Italy after scoring 47 goals in 72 matches.
‘Big Rom’ is back in Serie A with an exceptional pedigree: among various clubs, senior national team and youth national teams, Lukaku has featured in over 650 matches, scoring 336 goals at an average of 0.51 goals per match.
According to Sky Sport Italia statistics, at 27 Lukaku had already reached 300 career goals, proving his worth as one of the best players in the world in the penalty area.
Inter have gambled on Lukaku after a disastrous season in Chelsea and after his falling out with Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel.
Milan can be the right antidote for Big Rom’s melancholy and Simone Inzaghi will build a disciplined and devoted team around him.
Vlahovic is the man Juventus decided to buy by sacrificing Paolo Dybala and giving up on Matthijs de Ligt to make ends meet for the club.
He is one of the three best European millennials, together with Kylian Mbappe and Erling Halaand, and his physical prowess is one of the strengths of Max Allegri’s team.
The Tuscan technician asked to buy Filip Kostic, Paul Pogba and Angel di Maria to create more opportunities in attack and to light the fuse for Vlahovic.
Now Vlahovic has a great opportunity, perhaps the most important of his career: to prove that he is a top player by bringing the Scudetto back to Turin and to take top spot on the goalscoring charts.
If he succeeds, he will become first millennial to win the award and set a new statistical record in Italy.
Vlahovic is the best solution to Juventus’ problems in attack and now it will be essential to create around him a team capable of enhancing his characteristics.
With Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi’s departure, he will also take penalties and free-kicks, increasing his chances to be top goalscorer.
Jose Mourinho began his second managerial stint in Italy by spending around £34m on the qualities of one of the golden boys of English football who, in his first year in Serie A, proved to be more than a suitable centre forward for Roma.
In the 2021/2022 season, Tammy Abraham played 36 games, had 38 shots on goal out of a total of 72 and scored 17 goals.
The next step will be to surpass the 20-goal mark in the league and, with Dybala and Nicolo Zaniolo behind him, maybe try to win the top scorer award.
Abraham is the perfect No 9 for Mourinho’s football philosophy and his presence in attack will be constant.
Mourinho has decided to make the team even more competitive and the arrival of many top players has been engineered to further improve the performance of Abraham.
He is on the last waltz of his contract with Milan, he is 36 years old and this could be the last season to establish his ability to play at a top club as a protagonist.
Over the last year he has played little and scored many goals, and with greater luck he will be able to help Milan reach their targets again.
The chance of being able to reach first place in the top scorer rankings will also help Giroud to offer 100 per cent of his enthusiasm.
It is very unlikely he will reach the milestone but Stefano Pioli’s team is used to surprising opponents and meticulous physical preparation may have injected enough fuel into the muscles of the French striker.