Napoli Did Not Trust Vargas
It is astonishing that Napoli did not give Vargas one Serie A start despite spending €13.5 million on him.
In his debut Serie A campaign, he took two shots the entire season which tells you he was out of sync and anonymous. Even reserve centre-back Federico Fernandez registered more shots (five).
Vargas faced an arduous task attempting to usurp either Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi or Marek Hamsik, an attacking triumvirate nicknamed the "Three Tenors" for their free-flowing football.
The trio combined for 41 goals and 17 assists during Vargas' first Serie A season.
When Lavezzi left for Paris Saint-Germain in 2012, it opened the door for Vargas to be a breakout star in his second season for Napoli.
Aside from a hat-trick against AIK in a 4-0 UEFA Europa League win, Vargas spent his time as an impact sub, or warming the benches.
Napoli expected Vargas to be world-class like Neymar.
Who was the challenger to Neymar's 2012 South American footballer of the year title? Vargas, then starring for Universidad de Chile, per Tim Vickery at BBC Sport:
It is this type of talent that has made the 22-year-old [Vargas] the outstanding figure of the last few months of South American football; but not the player of the year.
It was a two-horse race, but Neymar of Brazil and Santos pulled away to win the annual prize organised by the Uruguayan newspaper, El Pais.
Neymar and Vargas going head to head for the player of the Americas title is a good sign. Both are worthy inheritors of a great tradition.
|Neymar vs. Eduardo Vargas (European League Only)|
|Games (Starts)||16 (12)||19 (0)|
|Shots Per Goal||6.7||N/A|
|Chances Created Per Game||1.7||0.3|
|Dribbles Per Game||3.2||0.3|
It is no longer a rivalry: Neymar is the world's sixth best footballer, per the Guardian, while Vargas is fighting to keep his European dream alive.
It wasn't until Vargas was loaned out to Gremio that he revealed he had problems coping with being a fringe player.
"I didn't feel good on my debut and played badly," Vargas said, per Adam Digby at ESPN FC. "Then I lost my confidence and was never able to play consistently. I was not happy in Italy."
Vargas was replaying the moment he accidentally passed the ball to Cesena's Stefan Popescu who scored.
You would think Vargas' hat-trick against AIK atoned for his error against Cesena but it didn't in his mind.
Perhaps, Vargas pinpointed that event as the reason why he lost the trust of then Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri, who preferred Goran Pandev and Lorenzo Insigne over Vargas.
Pandev, a reliable veteran, went on to score and create 13 total league goals that season.
The emergence of Insigne, who featured in 37 of the 38 league games, all but ended Vargas' career at Napoli, which precipitated loan moves to Gremio and now Valencia.
Does Vargas know what he is getting himself into at Valencia?
The former La Liga champions are in disarray and are currently ranked ninth in the league standings.
- Technical director Braulio Vazquez was abruptly dismissed last November, per Inside Spanish Footbal.
- Valencia centre-back Adil Rami's criticisms of the club indicated there was squad disharmony. He was suspended, per Dermot Corrigan at ESPN FC and later loaned out to AC Milan.
- Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim's attempts of buying Valencia failed, per Marca.
- This means Valencia's search for a white knight, who would be willing to take up "€354 million of debt, finish building the new stadium and make €40 million available for signings", per Sid Lowe at the Guardian, continues.
- Valencia's managerial revolving door persisted with the sacking of Miroslav Djukic, per BBC Sport. Juan Antonio Pizzi, his successor, needs to swiftly prove his worth, otherwise he will suffer the same fate as Djukic, Mauricio Pellegrino and Ernesto Valverde—the three aforementioned managers failed to serve three seasons.
Though, the announcement of a partnership with MotoGP team Aspar provides some much-needed respite for Valencia, per ValenciaCF.com.
Fittingly, most of Valencia's options out wide are like Vargas—technically gifted but frustratingly inconsistent.
Sofiane Feghouli, RAM, Age: 24
Levante's left-sided centre-back Issam El Adoua and left-back Nikos Karabelas could not keep up with Feghouli, who had six goalscoring chances during Valencia's 2-0 win over Levante.
Feghouli had an influential cameo appearance during the 1-1 Copa del Rey draw against Atletico Madrid.
He did not misplace a single pass in 31 minutes and made the vital pass to Postiga who netted a late equaliser.
Feghouli's touch is immaculate, his passing is brilliant, and he can be a world-beater but here is the regular theme of his career: dominate for a batch of games, then go missing for a few months.
This is why he has never registered 10 goals or 10 assists in one league season.
Pablo Piatti, LAM, Age: 24
Piatti is a pocket-rocket who zips past opposing defenders.
But his erratic performances, five goals in his last three La Liga seasons, are why he is in-and-out of the starting XI.
He was diplomatic when asked about his lack of opportunities under Djukic.
"What happens to you in another era serves you well in terms of experience," Piatti said, per Football Espana. "Now we have another person [Pizzi] in charge and the team wants to do its best to achieve its goals."
Dorlan Pabon, LAM, Age: 26
Pabon is dynamic, can create his own chances and shoots on sight.
One criticism of his game is his unwillingness to make incisive passes hence a significant difference between his shots per game (3.6) and chances created per game (0.8).
He is a deep-lying forward masquerading as a winger.
Several Brazilian teams including Sao Paulo are looking to sign Pabon on loan, per Superdeporte (h/t Georges Sessions at Sambafoot.com).
Fede, RAM/LAM, Age: 21
Fede is 0-of-20 in goals to shots taken in La Liga.
That said, he works extremely hard without the ball, making 29 tackles in 12 league games.
He covers so much ground that should his attacking output continue to be below-par, he could be converted into a full-back.
The silver lining in Vargas' decision to choose Valencia, a club in free-fall, is there are no undisputed wide attacking midfielders in the team.
Vargas is a speedy, direct and fleet-footed attacker who was once considered in the same class as Neymar.
A player of Vargas' ability should be given a free-roaming role centrally but that responsibility will only be awarded to him if he can force his way into Valencia's starting XI.
He can rescue his career because he has the technical proficiency to thrive in La Liga.