Francesco Caputo has been around the block during his 16-year career. The veteran has turned out for modest outfits such as Toritto, Salernitana and Noicattaro and has not followed the traditional path to reach Italy’s top flight.
After a nine-season absence, Caputo finally made his return to Serie A with Empoli in 2018 and the striker hit a very credible 16 goals from 38 appearances. The Azzurri unfortunately lost their status in the league but the Altamura native was quickly snapped up by Sassuolo in one of the moves of the window.
Caputo was in esteemed company last term and only Cristiano Ronaldo, Ciro Immobile and Romelu Lukaku bettered the evergreen marksman’s tally of 21. The Neroverdi ace’s form could not go unnoticed any longer at international level and Roberto Mancini gave him a well-deserved call up to the national team set-up in September. Caputo struck on his debut for the four-time World Cup winners in October against Moldova and another productive campaign in front of goal is likely to guarantee a place in Mancini’s 23-man party for the European Championships.
The former Inter and Manchester City coach had no concerns selecting Fabio Quagliarella, four years Caputo’s senior, earlier in his tenure and it could get better yet for the Sassuolo hero as Immobile and Andrea Belotti struggle to convince in a national shirt. A criticism often levelled at the former is his inability to replicate his club form for his country, while the latter is in danger of stagnating at Torino and has no European football to test himself at the highest level.
Caputo could yet feature in the Europa League if Sassuolo continue their upward trajectory under Roberto De Zerbi. The talented coach has set his sights on a top six finish and his No. 9 will be integral to achieving that objective.