Serie A Star Power Index: Insigne ties Maradona’s record, clutch Džeko for Inter, Abraham makes Mourinho happy

Welcome to Serie A Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of the players who are most controlling the buzz around Italy. Inclusion on this list isn’t necessarily a good thing. It simply means you’re capturing the Serie A world’s attention. This is also not a ranking. The players listed are in no particular order as it pertains to the buzz they’re generating. You can watch Serie A’s top players all season long on Paramount+.  

Lorenzo Insigne, Napoli 

Lorenzo Insigne scored his first goal for Napoli since he sealed his eventual summer move to Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC. There has been so much noise in recent weeks over the mood of the Napoli captain that he still has not spoken publicly after Jan. 8, when the announcement was made official. 

Insigne returned from a 14-day injury absence to score a penalty against Salernitana. After finding the back of the net, the 30-year-old Insigne, who has been apart of the Napoli organization since he was 15, sprinted toward the corner flag with his teammates and then yelled the following at the camera nearby: “Napoli, I love you and I will love you forever.” 

Those words obviously pleased the fans, who have always sided with the player in recent weeks. It was not a goal like the others for Insigne, because with this penalty he matched Diego Armando Maradona with 115 goals in Napoli’s all-time scoring list. He is now in third place behind Dries Mertens (144) and Marek Hamsik (121).


Dries Mertes




Marek Hamšík




Lorenzo Insigne




Diego Maradona



Edin Džeko, Inter Milan 

A last-minute Edin Džeko goal sealed three points for Inter Milan against Venezia. The former AS Roma captain failed to score in the previous seven games in all competitions before finding the back of the net over the week. His late winner showed how important it is for the club to have their prized striker stepping up in clutch situations like he used to.

Alongside Lautaro Martinez, Džeko is viewed as the go-to striker of this team, especially given the constant injury absence of Joaquin Correa. The 35-year-old Džeko, who arrived last summer to replace Romelu Lukaku after he moved to Chelsea, strung together some impressive impressive performances to start the season with seven goals scored through the first nine Serie A matches. He has been a bit lost lately, and whether or not that’s due to Alexis Sanchez’s good impact in recent weeks remains to be seen. Regardless, Simone Inzaghi has always trusted him, and even in several occasions when he failed to find the back of the net, he preferred to keep him on the pitch for the full 90 in hopes of a breakthrough. As the January transfer window winds down, former Lazio striker Felipe Caicedo is expected to join Inter Milan, but that won’t change much for Dzeko as he will always be the starter of this team up top alongside Martinez. 

Tammy Abraham, AS Roma

Jose Mourinho’s squad in the past few weeks seemed to have been mired in a slump with defeats to top-five sides AC Milan and Juventus, but they’ve picked it back up and have taken care of expected business against relegation-threatened Cagliari and middle-of-the-pack Empoli.

Win or lose, Tammy Abraham has been a crucial piece for this team with six goals scored in the past six games. Against Empoli on Sunday, he scored a brace that dragged Mourinho’s men to a nice 4-2 win. The 24-year-old England international arrived in the summer with high expectations after being paid around €40 million from Chelsea and assuming a vacancy left behind by former captain and fan favorite Edin Džeko. The striker immediately convinced everyone of his potential on and off the pitch — from Mourinho to the fans who supported him even in a complicated moment last fall when he failed to score for six consecutive games. With the start of the new year, it seems as if he’s back on form and ready to live up to the high standards set by everyone around him. 

Joao Pedro, Cagliari 

When Roberto Mancini last week announced the list of players partaking in Italy’s national team camp in January, there were a few surprises. Above all, obviously was the inclusion of Mario Balotelli after a three-year absence, but there was also another interesting name: Cagliari captain Joao Pedro. 

His current club is not doing well this season, as it fights to avoid relegation, but he has managed to score 10 goals in 23 games in the process. Born in Brazil, Joao Pedro recently acquired an Italian passport and is therefore ready to play next March in the World Cup play-offs. It remains to be seen whether he’ll get the call for a game as crucial for the future of the national team as this one, but the fact that he participated in this trial undoubtedly puts him in a list of players that also includes Gianluca Scamacca and Balotelli, as well European champions Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti. 

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