Since the announcement of his signing with Melbourne City on Monday, Manuel Pucciarelli has ignited discussion amongst fans around the type of qualities that he’ll bring to the club and the role that he will play if he is to be a regular feature of Patrick Kisnorbo’s starting XI.
However, between his apparent falling out of favour with Chievo Verona in Serie B – playing just 13 minutes in the 2020/21 season according to Transfermarkt – and his subsequent low-profile loan spell to United Arab Emirates outfit Dibba Al-Fujairah, gauging Pucciarelli’s quality will have been difficult for the majority of curious City fans.
Aided by a freed-up lockdown schedule, however, scouring through videos and articles of Pucciarelli’s stint in the UAE and his time in home country Italy became a more feasible task, culminating in the development of this in-depth player analysis article for those seeking further knowledge of City’s newest signing.
A player who hasn’t traditionally been the focal point of his side’s strike force, Pucciarelli has instead adapted to playing as a second striker who combines well with those around him to fashion chances for himself in promising areas.
He moves intelligently off the ball to anticipate where it is likely to spill or be passed to, especially around the edge of the box.
Once he does receive inside the area, however, his modus operandi is fairly uncomplicated; Pucciarelli swings, and he swings hard.
Right-footed strikes across the keeper are just about a trademark for the Italian, with one of his most recent examples of this seen in the clip below from his stint with Dibba Al-Fujairah.
Pucciarelli’s affinity for powered strikes also entails some impressive long-range shooting, with the forward capable of picking out top corners, or testing the keeper at the very least, with surprising frequency.
Pucciarelli is far from a sharpshooter, however, and underperformed his Expected Goals (xG) by a significant amount between the 2014/15 and 2018/19 seasons, accumulating 22.77 xG despite only netting 16 times (per Understat).
Similar to his shooting, there is very little complicated about Pucciarelli’s approach to dribbling; aside from the occasional stepover or body feint, his go-to move is simply to shift the ball out of the would-be tackler’s reach.
Where Pucciarelli’s technical quality is most evident is in situations where he needs to control with the toe of his boot, allowing him to guide aerial balls down to the turf or flick the ball to himself to evade an approaching opposition player.
In situations where he has pressure arriving from all sides, Pucciarelli can occasionally rotate – literally – out of trouble with a wide, bent-knees stance to protect the ball with his low centre of gravity. This trait does, however, significantly aid him in receiving the ball to feet whilst holding off a defender. From here, Pucciarelli has a very similar ability to roll an opponent as a certain Bruno Fornaroli – also 5’8” – a skill which may spark some nostalgia from City fans when their new signing is able to execute the move for the first time at AAMI Park.
One of many similarities to his predecessor Adrián Luna, Pucciarelli has a massive engine and is renowned for his endurance to cover plenty of ground across the park. Whilst not electric in his pace, the 30-year-old still has the ability to quickly accelerate away from his opponent or to latch on to balls played in front of him.