He may be 26, but Leonardo Pavoletti is only just now getting his first real chance to prove he can cut it in the top flight.
Heading into the current season, the Italian had played a mere 40 minutes of Serie A football in his career, although he had proven himself prolific in the lower leagues.
Last season on loan at Varese Pavoletti hit 20 goals over the course of the Serie B campaign, adding an extra four goals in a two-legged relegation play-off tie against Novara.
In doing the latter he saved Varese from dropping down to the third tier, sparking summer interest from Massimo Cellino’s Leeds United.
However, a deadline day push from Leeds was not enough to sign the striker, who returned to Sassuolo to take on a back-up role, behind the likes of Simone Zaza in the pecking order.
Pavoletti is still yet to start a game but nonetheless accomplished an important objective on Sunday evening, scoring his first Serie A goal against Palermo in a 2-1 loss.
Equalising in the 85th minute, Pavoletti looked to have earned 10-man Sassuolo a point. Only a late Andrea Belotti strike denied the Neroverdi a draw, but the 26-year-old was still keen to mark the moment.
Pavoletti told Sky Sport Italia: “I ate a cannolo. I always like to celebrate these special occasions. Scoring is always nice, if it’s the first time than it’s even better.
“If we had drawn that would have been perfect. We have to continue to work anyway. We’ll move forward and we have to improve on the mistakes that we made.”
In the background of his memorable accomplishment, Pavoletti continues to be linked with Leeds. Sporting director Nicola Salerno has admitted the Whites would gladly snap him up if available.
Yet complicating any possible move for Leeds is a potential transfer ban in January, which seemingly kills off any hopes Leeds have of bringing in reinforcements in the New Year, although there is a possible scenario that could see Pavoletti arrive regardless.
According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, a loophole could be included in the embargo allowing signings to be made if no transfer fee is involved and wages are not in excess of £10,000-per-week.
Pavoletti currently earns approximately £4,500-per-week at Sassuolo. Should the Neroverdi be willing to let him go on loan with no fee attached, Leeds would be able to bring him in under the suggested arrangement.
The more physical Italian could serve as a change of pace up front for Whites boss Neil Redfearn to Mirco Antenucci, Billy Sharp and Souleymane Doukara.
Certain conditions, of course, would have to fall into place for Pavoletti to arrive. The necessary loophole will have to prove extant if the transfer ban is in place, while Sassuolo would need to be willing to let the striker leave.
Pavoletti’s debut goal may persuade Sassuolo that he’s more valuable to the squad than previously thought, although that will only become clear in the coming weeks.
The Livorno native faces stiff competition for playing time at the Mapei Stadium, but both Sassuolo and the player himself could be tempted to see if he can make it in Serie A after all.