The leaves are now turning, browning and falling off the branches they once clutched to for their very lives. The temperature is cooling and the Island of Sicily is bathed in less sunshine each and every day. Yet despite these obvious signs of the autumn, it appears the summer is refusing to leave us. Javier Pastore is being divided up in the media by every single European ‘Big Club’ who wants to dig their claws into the highly talented midfielder. Just because the transfer window is closed, the transfer stories refuse to cease despite Maurizio Zamparini’s consternations.
Barcelona are the main protagonists of this play and their involvement is hardly a shocking twist. The Catalan club are the perfect contradiction, so beautiful on the field and yet so ugly off of it. Pastore is not the first player they have targeted in this manner, Cesc Fabregas was part of the media bombardment and recruitment they tried over the calendar year to date. A manager weaker than Wenger, of whom there are many, would surely have caved into the pressure of the circus stunts. They will use their President, their Coaching Staff and their players to try to lure the player in like the Sirens on the rock. Plus, due to it all being in the public domain, this tapping up is not regarded as anything more than a compliment by the governors of the respective FA’s. The clubs classless behaviour is scarcely just constrained to the confines of recruitment as a general sore loser mentality permeates everyone except the face of the organisation, Pep Guardiola.
Calcio fans will not need reminding of the whinging and whining around the Champions League Semi-Finals last season from all of the players, where Jose Mourinho was blamed for every roadblock they faced, quite literally in the case of the Icelandic volcano. It is a shame that such a phenomenal footballing side detracts from this with their ubiquitous bad attitude. Pastore has said all the right things in how he doesn’t want to leave, with the Rosanero treating him like family but he must feel the draw. Sicily will not contain him for long, he is too talented not to be competing in the greatest competitions for long. Which is why it is pivotal that Palermo gain success this season and offer their promising youngsters a genuine reason to stay, otherwise Palermo will become the premier selling club in Europe.
As a business model it is ideal, bring in young South Americans picked by the highly effective scouting department. Train them up and school them in the ways of European football and two years later they are worth about four times what you have paid for them. But, as a competitive model, it could become a vicious cycle with the club stagnating or even worse, languishing. The chairman has already stated that it is not about the money for him and that he wants Palermo to achieve success under his tenure. Now, whilst in the past the owner would have the power, the balance has shifted. Player power is the new lord, generated by agents, media exposure and guaranteed contracts. This has produced a disconnect between the players and fans but ultimately whether that is a detriment to the game is a moot point. So, despite Zamparini’s consternations, if Pastore decides this summer that it is time to move on, he will likely follow the much stepped path and force his way out.
The only possible way to keep the young stars in Sicily is to win and win immediately, starting with Bologna on Sunday afternoon. The Champions League is a necessity to keep the vultures away from picking the prime young talent. As mentioned before on this website, the parity in the League is a huge benefit to the club as it will allow for them to slip up occasionally and still be in contention. The International break stopped the Rosanero in a fine patch of form, Delio Rossi will be keen for this to continue upon resumption. The defence will have had another week of training to gel with each other and for Munoz and Bovo to try and form a strong partnership. The key to this team is scoring goals and if Rossi wants to keep his young stars this will be the progressive way. With the scouting department and coaching staff creating such extraordinary talent for this small Island team it hardly seems fair that the bigger market teams ravage them. But, in football, as in the free market upon which the sport is regulated, when does fair ever come into it?