Tottenham sensation and Arsenal flop jostle for career pick-me-up

Arsenal Legends

How are a failed Arsenal prospect and Tottenham Hotspur's 'next big thing' linked?

Was was described as a 'proper goalscorer' and the other has been nicknamed the new Didier Drogba; so how are Arturo Lupoli and Souleymane Coulibaly linked?

Well it's staggeringly simple, they are currently playing for the same side, US Grosseto in Italy's Serie B - But their stories could not be more different, yet have some striking similarities - no pun intended.

When Grosseto drew 2-2 with Lanciano two weeks back, Lupoli and Coulibaly were the two strikers brought off the bench to inspire a fightback.

Neither of them scored, but each have interesting back stories. Coulibaly's case is more straightforward;

He was signed by Tottenham two years ago after performances at FIFA's under-17 World Cup best described as 'stunning'. Representing the Ivory Coast, he scored nine goals in just four matches, finishing as the tournament's top scorer.

Clubs as big as Real Madrid were keen to snap him up, from Siena in Italy where he had grown up after leaving his homeland as a youngster, but Tottenham won the race.

He has had to be patient, featuring in Spurs' under-21 side this season, and clinched a loan move to Grosseto in January amid speculation he was homesick, but the aim is to give him a regular taste of competitive first team football and make a name for himself.

At just 18-years-old he has his career ahead of him to fulfil his potential, and his time alongside a man once touted across North London as a potential superstar will surely focus his mind on what is important.

Grosseto are bottom of Serie B, destined to relegation to Italy's third tier, and it is most certainly not how Arturo Lupoli saw his career panning out.

For Coulibaly will head back to Spurs in May, focused on being a Premier League success, but that is all but a faded dream for former Arsenal youngster Lupoli.

He was signed from Parma in 2004, scoring a terrific 27 goals in 32 games in his first academy season, indicating he really could be a special striker. First team chances were though limited, and Lupoli found himself loaned to Championship side Derby in 2006, which would start to signal when it all went wrong.

In 35 games he netted just seven goals. Not the impact he had hoped to provide, and one which signalled he was far from ready for Premier League action. He soon quit Arsenal for Fiorentina, but didn't play a game, being loaned to Serie B side Treviso, before coming back to the Championship, on loan with both Norwich and Sheffield United.

He then signed for Italian side Ascoli where he spent two years, and in 2011 signed for Grosseto where he remains, handed the number nine shirt.

Such star billing has been tough for him to live up to, and at the age of 25 the former Italy under-21 international is still struggling to impress.

He has just eight goals in two seasons to show for his efforts, despite playing in excess of 40 games, scoring five of those this season.

He has a contract at Grosseto until 2014, so does not have to fear for his future just yet, but he needs a real pick-me-up to save his flagging career.

Seeing Coulibaly may make him realise what he had, and spark him into life, but it is more likely to have a poignant effect on the Ivorian. Coulibaly will no doubt enjoy his brief spell with Grosseto, but it is not where he wants to be at 25.

He is currently competing with Lupoli for minutes on the pitch as he aims to return to Tottenham showing his time there was worthwhile and he deserves more opportunites next year. He certainly won't want to end up on the scrapheap like the former Arsenal man.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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