Eni Aluko enjoying a career renaissance in Serie A after Chelsea departure
Background photo: Sbocchisangu, CC BY-SA 3.0
Few could have been blamed for thinking Eni Aluko’s career was in decline last season as she struggled for playing time at Chelsea and was out of contract that summer. However, the 32-year-old is enjoying a new lease of life in Italy after making the surprise switch to Juventus and is now one of Serie A’s most prolific forwards.
Aluko has 10 goals in 17 appearances for Juve this season and has bagged two hat-tricks for her troubles – vs Roma (October 21, 2018) and Verona (December 22). The England international scored on her Serie A debut and hasn’t looked back - only Barbara Bonansea has scored more goals (12) in the Juventus side than Aluko.
She’s also in worth a shout of picking up silverware, with Juventus currently leading Serie A with five games to go - Rita Guarino’s side are one point clear of second-placed Fiorentina. It could be a fourth domestic title for Aluko if Juventus can hold off the Violas in the run-in.
The experienced striker has been ensuring she has a career when she hangs up her boots too, becoming a columnist for the Guardian and getting more involved in football punditry. She was also a junior lawyer for Slaughter and May, working as an associate consultant in the corporate team, before leaving the role after joining Juve.
Aluko has many irons in the fire, but her move to Italy could also ensure she squeezes out an extra year or two at the top-level. For serial winners, it’s often hard to take a step down – something Aluko alluded to in a recent Guardian column – but her move to Juve isn’t a dramatic drop. Aluko regards Serie A as on par with the WSL and says they’re only inferior in the Champions League
After winning league titles and domestic cups throughout her career, the striker’s next move had to be for a club where she could repeat the feat. Paris Saint-German showed an interest, but Lyon’s domination of the French league made it an unattractive destination. Juve winning the title in their first season proved enough to Aluko that they’re no slouches.
She’s led a nomadic and decorated career, playing for the likes of Birmingham City (2001-2004 & 2012), Charlton Athletic (2004-2007), Chelsea (2007-2009 and 2012-2018), Saint Louis Athletica (2009-2010), Atlanta Beat (2010) and Sky Blue FC (2011), in addition to making 102 caps for England.
Aluko has won three WSL titles (2015,2017, 2017/18) and four Women’s Cups (2004/05, 2011/12, 2014/15, 2017/18). She’s also a runner-up with England in the 2009 European Championships and won a bronze medal in the 2015 World Cup.
Nobody would have begrudged her retiring from the game last summer given all she’s achieved, but Aluko is writing another chapter in a glorious career to defy any suggestion that she’s slowing down. No English woman outside of the WSL has more goals than the 32-year-old, and her surprise move to Italy could be on of the most successful club stints of her career if she stays in Turin.