The Argentine has already started repaying his mammoth transfer fee by capturing the imagination of fans and creating some memorable momentsCOMMENT
By Robin Bairner | French Football Editor
Paris Saint-Germain had already shown their willingness to open their chequebook in the summer before signing Javier Pastore, but it was the €42 million arrival of the Argentine that really made the footballing world sit up and take notice of the club from the French capital.
Notorious underachievers in the past, suddenly the Ligue 1 outfit had out-boxed Premier League powerhouse Chelsea to secure the signature of the highly talented playmaker.
Having snapped up the 22-year-old for a fee close to double what any French side had paid previously for a player, PSG announced themselves back on the big stage, but questions remained as to whether they would be giants in financial expenditure only as opposed to on the field.
|SNAPSHOT | Javier Pastore (Paris Saint-Germain & Argentina)
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In five words: Promising start, still settling in
Two months into the campaign, it’s fair to say that things are going relatively well for the Parc des Princes side. In recent weeks their performances have grown ever more cohesive and ever more impressive, with wins starting to come with increasing ease.
Pastore, it must be said, has been central to this success and is so far proving to be worth every cent of his record fee.
Even with such big purchases, a reasonable amount of settling-in time should be generally afforded. Le Championnat, after all, is a very different league to Serie A. The physical demands on players are greater, and traditionally it’s been more difficult, though by no means impossible, for technical players to flourish.
Lucho Gonzalez, for example, has only produced his top level in fleeting bursts since becoming Marseille’s record acquisition over two summers ago, and it’s typically been the Champions League in which he’s produced some of his more influential displays.
Countryman Pastore, however, has looked quite at home pulling the strings in les Parisiens’ attack, which is arguably the most fearsome in France already, with Jeremy Menez, Nene and Kevin Gameiro completing a quite terrifying offensive quartet. Sure, consistency has yet to arrive over the course of 90 minutes, but that will come.
|JAVIER PASTORE | Ligue 1 career to date
While Menez has shown glimpses of his sparkle, Nene maintained his high standards from last season and Gameiro displayed wonderful movement and finishing power, it’s been Pastore who has been undoubtedly the outstanding figure in les Rouge et Bleu’s ranks.
PSG’s fans took to him immediately. Before he had even stepped to the pitch, such was the fervour amongst les Parisiens’ support that the club shop ran out of the letter ‘E’, having failed to anticipate the demand for his name and number on shirts. After playing only two matches in August, including a Europa League fixture against Luxembourg minnows Differdange, he was proclaimed the club’s Player of the Month, boasting 35 per cent of the vote, beating off fellow new arrivals Gameiro (17%) and Salvatore Sirigu (12%).
And Pastore has since more than justified the hype build around him, gaining strength virtually on a match-by-match basis, regularly providing inspiration to a team that is still quite clearly finding its feet, yet one that is also finding results.
Trailing 2-0 against newly promoted Evian, having played a turgid match, PSG were brought back into the game by a moment of sheer brilliance from their most exuberant signing. Having danced through a forest of legs at the edge of the box, Pastore finished neatly, setting the scene for a comeback that ended with a point.
|Before he had even stepped to the pitch, such was the fervour amongst les Parisiens’ support that the club shop ran out of the letter ‘E’, having failed to anticipate the demand for his name and number on shirts.
Perhaps better was to arrive in Montpellier, when he executed a technically marvellous volley from a difficult angle to help Kombouare’s side to a 3-0 victory away to the erstwhile league leaders. Later in the same fixture, he would again register.
“No, I don’t know if I played that well,” the player admitted frankly after the game, doubtless feeling he could have been a little more involved in PSG’s all-round play. “I can still improve a lot; it will come when I know my team-mates better. And I can perform better actions.”
Already there have been rumours in the press that Real Madrid are closely watching the breathtaking progress of the South American, with no less a figure than Zinedine Zidane reportedly a huge admirer of a player who has been compared favourably to France’s 1998 World Cup hero.
There was certainly a touch of Zidane about the manner in which Pastore executed Montpellier last weekend, and should he continue on such a track, there is every chance he could match the popularity of ‘Zizou’ in the French capital.
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