After two years at St. Gallen, Cedric Itten is leaving for pastures new.
The 23-year-old will leave Die Espen this summer, as the curtain closes on the Swiss Super League season. Itten signed for Scottish giants Rangers on Tuesday, joining the Glasgow side on a four year deal.
As Itten prepares for a new challenge next season, there is no doubt that he is a superb signing.
Itten has always been a promising striker, but he needed that opportunity to show what he can do. It meant he had to leave boyhood club and Swiss giants FC Basel in 2018, joining St. Gallen after 11 years with the RotBlau. But that was the move he needed, showing his worth and talent in an outstanding season in green.
He was part of a historic St. Gallen side, who secured their highest ever Super League finish and their best in the top flight for 19 years. They finished second behind champions BSC Young Boys, narrowly missing out on a first title since 2000.
Itten was key to their title charge, ending as the league’s second top scorer behind YB’s Jean-Pierre Nsame. With 19 goals in 34 appearances, he was involved in a third (31.6%) of St. Gallen’s goals, forming an unstoppable partnership up top with Ermedin Demirović.
It was his best ever season in front of goal, undoubtedly the standout player in Peter Zeidler’s young squad. His performances attracted the attention of Switzerland manager Vladimir Petković, as Itten deservedly earned his first Nati callup for the EURO 2020 qualifiers last November.
Just six minutes after coming off the bench, Itten scored the winner in a 1-0 win over Georgia. He scored a brace in his next game against Gibraltar, making it three goals in his first two international games. After helping the Swiss qualify for EURO 2020 as group winners, Itten is in strong contention to make the final squad next summer.
His stats for club and country prove how prolific he is, averaging a goal every two games throughout his time at St. Gallen. At just 23, he is already demonstrating his goalscoring instinct, with years ahead of him to develop and improve.
Itten has all the traits of a classic striker, excelling as a target man up top. He has many clear strengths to his game, all combining to produce a promising striker.
His positioning is brilliant, with most of his goals coming from his ability to find space in the box. Itten is always in the right place at the right time, making smart runs in between the lines and causing havoc for Super League backlines.
Itten also has strong linkup play, combining well with St. Gallen’s other attackers en route to finding the net. His connection with Jérémy Guillemenot has been deadly, while Itten and strike partner Demirović earned a combined 48 goal contributions in all competitions this season.
However, Itten’s key strength is his heading ability.
He is clinical when it comes to using his head – a quarter of his goals this season have been headers. Itten is the perfect player to deliver crosses to, looking comfortable in and around the penalty box. That is not just the case for St. Gallen, with two-thirds of his goals for Switzerland being headers.
Itten has all the outstanding attributes of the modern striker, all at the age of 23. While there is space for improvement, the early signs are extremely promising.
As Rangers officially sign Itten, it is a fantastic deal. He only had a year left on his St. Gallen contract, and with the player already set on leaving the club, Steven Gerrard’s side could have got him for as little as £5 million. Whatever his final price tag will be, it is sure to be a bargain for an exciting young player.
Itten will excel in Scotland, granted that he is given the opportunity. After all, he is Switzerland’s most promising striker for a reason.
It has been a superb season for the St. Gallen man, one which will earn him a deserved stepup to a top European league. The time has come for Itten to take the next step, and write the next chapter in an exciting career.