Ademola Lookman started the season like a house on fire but is now on a five-game barren run
“I will catch him. Not I might, I will,” these were the words of Nigerian forward Ademola Lookman about his compatriot Victor Osimhen in late January 2023.
By the time of that bold statement, Lookman had scored 11 goals in 18 league games for Atalanta, just two behind Osimhen for Napoli in what looked to be a tightly contested golden boot race in Serie A.
A month on from the statement, Osimhen remains top of the scoring charts with 19 league goals while Lookman has 12 in 23 league games, having only scored once in his last six games across all competitions.
Lookman's goals have dried up
Lookman started and played 69 minutes in Atalanta's latest game and failed to have an impact in what was a 2-0 defeat to AC Milan on Sunday at San Siro.
That makes it the fifth consecutive game in which Lookman has failed to score, having played league games against Sassuolo, Lazio, Lecce and AC Milan as well as a substitute appearance in the Coppa Italia defeat to Inter Milan.
This goes beyond just goals as the Nigerian forward seems to have lost his all-around potency, not even looking like scoring in most of those five games.
His assist for Atalanta in the 2-0 away win at Lazio is Lookman's only goal contribution in that barren run as he continues to fall short of the standard he set this season.
So why has Lookman gone from seven goals in five games in January which led to a Serie A player of the month nomination for him to now failing to score in February despite playing five games?
Why Lookman is no longer scoring
To be fair to the 25-year-old, Lookman's reputation as a goal scorer is a relatively new development as he was not prolific at any of his five previous clubs.
Before this season, Lookman's best return in a single season was eight goals which he scored in 42 games across all competitions on loan at Leicester City in 2021/22.
That relatively impressive season was what earned him a move to Atalanta but no one, not even the man himself could have predicted how prolific he would become in Bergamo.
It took Lookman just 17 games to surpass last season total and set a new personal best with nine goals for Atalanta but perhaps that was a flash in the pan?
14 goals in 20 games across all competitions before February is mighty impressive but unusual for Lookman, one goal in five though is a bit more his speed.
It seems harsh but it is more likely that his purple patch ended than it is to believe a player suddenly increased his end product significantly, that is not how development in football works.
The team factor
For the sake of balance, it is important to note that Atalanta as a team have not had a great February 2023, with four defeats and one win.
In fact, that solitary victory came in the one game Lookman played well in which was a 2-0 win away at Lazio with the Nigerian forward notching an assist.
It is not at all a coincidence that Atalanta's only win in the month came in the one game Lookman managed a goal contribution, highlighting his importance to the team.
It could also be viewed the other way round which is the point to make here that is, Lookman's form is dependent on how well his team plays.
So it would not be a farfetched conclusion to say simply that Lookman has stopped scoring lately because Atalanta have been playing poorly and the sooner that is rectified, the more prolific the Nigerian will be.
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