Club Focus – Palermo – Vibrancy of youth

The Uruguan teenage sensation Abel Hernández’s excellent displays are leading to him becoming a firm fan favourite with the Rosanero faithful. He is proving to be a natural goal scorer and has ousted fellow countryman Edison Cavani from the starting line-up. His performance against Milan was typical of his recent play, he showed continuous hustle and his efforts were rewarded with a goal. His harrying style put too much pressure on the Milanese rear guard and he caught them in possession on many occasions. Head Coach Delio Rossi will be extremely pleased by the progress he has made and will be no doubt be hoping to secure his services long-term.

Hernández is one of the first players to make his mark in Serie A having been born in the 1990s. He started his career at Central Español where he impressed and was subsequently picked up Peñarol. He became a first team regular there, which helped him into the national Under-20 squad. In January 2009, Palermo swooped in and signed him, hoping he would join their other extremely talented youngsters and blossom in Sicily. He immediately joined the excellent youth academy and helped them to win the Trofeo Giacinto Facchetti. This in itself was a massive boost for the Rosanero-who have spent a great deal in trying to establish players for the future. Just like Javier Pastore, Hernández failed to make any serious impact under Walter Zenga. In contrast, Delio Rossi has shown fantastic commitment to the youth movement and has helped nurture him into becoming a genuine goal scoring threat in the league.

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The final three games of the season come against Siena, Sampdoria and Atalanta. Both Siena and Atalanta are looking likely to be relegated and Palermo will have the majority of the possession in these games. Hernández should start in these games. He is an instinctive finisher, if he is a given a chance he normally takes his opportunity and buries it. Away games have been a struggle for the Rosanero this season, primarily due to them not scoring as many away from home as they do in Sicily, which will play into Hernández’s favour. It will be interesting to see if the Palermo tactician picks Hernández instead of Cavani. Abel is still very young and does not have Cavani’s potential to create chances. Edinson’s movement is excellent and he causes real problems for defenders, even if his finishing might sometimes be subpar. Hernández is the in-form player at the moment, he has made 18 appearances this season, with only seven in the starting eleven. In those appearances he has totalled seven goals. Cavani on the other hand has totalled 31 appearances with ten goals. They are similar players, both of whom are young and Rossi will have to make decide who will be a better fit for the team and who form a better attacking trio alongside Miccoli and Pastore, taking into account which of the two will ultimately cause the Sampdoria defence more trouble and create more opportunities.

Let us not forget that there is a World Cup this summer and Hernández will want to prove to Uruguayan Coach Oscar Tabárez that he belongs in the national side by winning one of his countrymen’s spots domestically. This type of rivalry can often be good for young players as it spurs them on to achieve all that they can. They will undoubtedly be battling it out in training and working hard off of the field as well. The Uruguayan starter has only been at the club for just over a season but is proving to be a very astute signing for club President Maurizio Zamparini. Palermo’s South American scouting department has certainly earned their salary over the past few years. With his height, skill and finishing ability he has the potential to be a real focal point of many attacking moves, which can take the pressure off of other skilful players. There is a young nucleus at Palermo, which should be a source of much pride for their fans. They have excellent talent at all the important positions, either brought up through the academy or bought when very young. It is a very positive sign for a club still on the rise to achieve such things with a squad full of players who haven’t fully developed and matured yet. The experience gained from this campaign, whether they reach the Champions League or not, could prove to be very valuable experience for a lot of the youngsters. The future is indeed very rosy for the Rosanero.

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