Club Focus – Palermo – The transfer that wasn’t

Javier Pastore defied all expectations in his first season in European football. Considering his age and slight build many observers would have expected him to struggle to make an impression. However the Argentinean playmaker has established himself as a key player for the Rosanero. His passing, speed, finishing and creativity have made him one of the brightest young stars in World football, and his ability has been successfully nurtured by the club. He signed for £6.5m last summer from Huracan and was considered to be a tremendous young talent. Despite his relative youth he has adapted to the European game so quickly, he earned himself a place in Diego Maradona’s World Cup squad.

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Palermo’s scouts have proved their worth in recent years and have un-earthed some real talent, especially in South America. Having such an accomplished scouting set-up comes with its own risks for a club the size of Palermo. They could potentially become a feeder club for Europe’s elite clubs. This would have a detrimental effect on the Sicilian side as their squad will be in an eternal state of transition season upon season. Simon Kjaer is a case in point, he moved due to the clubs failure to qualify for the Champions League in the last campaign. His move to Wolfsburg raised eyebrows amongst the football world, considering the German side missed out on European football altogether, but that particular argument is for another day. Palermo’s commitment to developing young players will mean that the club will invariably have to deal with the inconsistent nature of inexperienced players performances. Delio Rossi’s decision to field a rather unproven side could prove to be costly. He could be gambling the clubs status as a European force on the hope that his team of youngsters fulfil their potential.

Since Jose Mourinho has taken over at Real Madrid, he has stayed true to form and replicated what he did at both Chelsea and Inter and that is spend money. He is indulging in the transfer market to build a team in his own image, a team that can counter-attack and destroy any opponent on the break and remain strong, skilful and imperturbable under pressure. What ‘the special one’ saw on the night of Saturday March 20, 2010, was a player who fit his mould perfectly. That night saw Palermo hold Inter to a 1-1 draw at the Renzo Barbera stadium with a man of the match performance from the young Pastore. Sitting at the tip of the diamond formation, Javier controlled the tempo of the game beautifully, distributing the ball with grace effortlessly. He managed to beat players with consummate ease and maintained accuracy in his shooting even from range. He played beyond his years and showed that he is unfazed by one of the biggest stages in world football.

Soon after being installed as the new boss of Madrid, he tabled a £20m bid for Pastore. “Mourinho wanted him at all costs”, boasted Zamparini. But there followed an immediate rebuttal from the flamboyant president. For all his faults, Zamparini does not just look at the club solely as business entity and has always been keen on chasing the league title. To lose Pastore at this stage of his development would be a big blow and he would be hard to replace, even with the financial resources at Rossi’s disposal. Zamparini immediately placed a £40m price tag on him, which will most likely price everyone out of the market. Considering the fact that Real Madrid paid £34m for Karim Benzema, this could be described as an accurate figure.

The speculation over Pastore’s future could have a destabilising effect on all concerned at the Rosanero. The youngster is aware of the speculation surrounding his future and is keen to reiterate his desire to stay in Sicily as he said: “The rumours are nice to hear, but I want to stay at Palermo”. At the Stadio Renzo Barbera Pastore has the chance to be the focal point of an attack whilst avoiding the limelight at too young an age. Big money transfers to larger clubs can often have a deleterious impact on both the player’s personal and professional development.

Will the Spanish giants continue to bid for him? Undoubtedly. They will most likely be joined in that effort by other big names from across Europe. Mourinho is not one to take no for an answer. But the instant refusal by Zamparini will be a great relief to all Rosanero fans. This could prove to be the best piece of business conducted by the club this summer. The team are targeting success and are refusing to turn into a halfway house club between Buenos Aires and Spain. The only way to halt that progression is to win trophies and establish Palermo as one of Italy’s top clubs. With Pastore spearheading the attack, there is every chance that the Sicilian club can achieve just that.

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