Krzysztof Piatek, a new phenomeon
If you didn’t know about Milan star Krzysztof Piatek one year ago, I don’t blame you. Cause he was in Poland, still trying to build a name for himself, and aiming to become goalscorer in his own native country. Not that it suceeded, but it triggered a lot of things to bring the Polish striker to the level he is at right now. Piatek is this season’s big revelation in European football, and it remains to be seen whether the Polish will prove himself to be the new Robert Lewandowski or just a one-season wonder. But so far, the kid is doing a really good job, and his speed in adapting football in Serie A is astounishing, to say this least, especially considering he comes from a championship as weak as Poland’s Ekstraklasa.
Piatek is a literal example of the “from rags to riches” archetype. He was born in a small town, Dzierzoniow, Poland, in 1995. In 2012, he started out playing football for his local team, Lechia Dzierzoniow, in the third division of Polish football. And according to the stats, he only appeared in 6 matches as well, so basically his journey to the top begun as a substitute to a third tier team. Yet only one year later, in 2013, Piatek passed a trial with Zaglebie Lubin, in Ekstraklasa, and was signed by the club. Due to his amateur level, he had to wait before he could get in shape to even train with the club. Piatek started training with the first team on 14 May 2014 and, four days later, he made his debut for Zablebie Lubin in Ekstraklasa, in a match against future team Cracovia. Piatek made only four appearances for Zaglebie Lubin, as the team relegated from Ekstraklasa. Over the course of the next season, he became a regular starter for Zaglebie, who played in I liga, the second tier of Polish football. He scored his first senior career goal on 12 September 2014 in a 1–0 win to Chrobry Głogów and his first brace on 31 October 2014 at Widzew Lodz. During that season, he helped Zaglebie Lubin promote back to Ekstraklasa, and was kept as a regular even after his promotion, as his first league goal came on 14 August 2015 in a 2–1 win against Lech Poznan. He scored 6 league goals in 33 matches during that time.
In 2016, Piatek moved to Cracovia. During his first season, he netted 11 goals in 27 matches in Ekstraklasa, from the position of a substitute. His second season saw him becoming a regular and scoring a total of 21 goals in Ekstraklasa, in 36 matches, as the Pole was three goals short of becoming the season’s Golden Boot, but ultimately finished on third place, behind Carlitos and Igor Angulo. Piatek even received an inclusion in Poland’s preliminary World Cup squad, uncapped as he was, before being eventually dropped.
However, if his prestance wasn’t enough to attract Poland’s summon for the World Cup, it was enough to attract Genoa’s attention and a fee of 4 million euros resolved the transfer. There, he went on a scoring rampage in Serie A, beating record after record and setting for 8 goals scored in his first 6 matches in the Italian championship. Only to later become the first player since Gabriel Batistuta in the 1994–95 season to score in each of his first seven Serie A appearances. He ended up the first half of the season with 19 goals in 21 matches in all competitions for Genoa, reportedly attracting attention from giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.
As Gonzalo Higuain’s loan from Juventus was cut short and the Argentinian eventually signed another deal with Chelsea, Piatek was brought in at AC Milan to be Higuain’s replacement for a fee of €35 milions. And since coming to Milan, Piatek has scored 9 goals in 12 matches (7 in Serie A and two in Coppa Italia). And is among the top goalscorers in Serie A, even above Cristiano Ronaldo at the moment.