When Ezequiel Lavezzi joined Paris Saint-Germain for €30 million two summers ago, he was one of the most sought-after players in Europe. It looked like a huge coup for the French club to take him from Napoli in Serie A to Ligue 1. It was deemed another step towards the French side growing into an elite club, but two years on it is difficult to see what the Argentine forward has really added to a team bulging with superstars.
During Laurent Blanc’s first season in charge of PSG, there was a definite bedding-in period, but once the World Cup winner stumbled upon the 4-3-3 formation, he stuck with it and used it to win the club's second consecutive Ligue 1 title.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was again the talisman, scoring 26 goals and doing all he could to help the club advance in both the league and Champions League.
Sixty million euros signing Edinson Cavani was brought in from Napoli last summer, and the Uruguayan did extremely well, playing in a role he was somewhat unfamiliar with, he scored 16 league goals in his first season in France.
The signing of Cavani was supposed to bring the best out of Lavezzi. The two had enjoyed a very successful few years in Naples, and the friendship and understanding between both players was to be the catalyst for a stunning PSG attacking trident.
During his first season in Paris, Lavezzi scored three times and added four assists in what was a very underwhelming debut.
As PSG approached the winter break last season, Lavezzi had only contributed two league goals and two assists in the Champions League comeback against Olympiakos. It wasn’t looking like his record was going to improve.
Then, family tragedy struck, Lavezzi’s uncle Jorge had been found dead not far from Rosario in Argentina, shot with a fatal bullet. The player was devastated, reported Goal.com’s Miles Chambers, but it wasn’t towards the end of the season that he returned to Argentina.
Just days after the news, Lavezzi lined up for PSG against Valenciennes and got himself on the scoresheet in the 3-0 victory. That was his fourth league goal on the season, and he would go on to score five more in the league and two in the Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen and Chelsea.
Although Lavezzi has never spoken of the situation, his upturn in form after such a devastating incident is testament to a player full of grit, determination and desire. These are the traits that have got him where he is today, and are exactly what won him his place on the 2014 Argentine World Cup squad.
Unfortunately, these qualities alone will only get you so far in football. Statistically, according to WhoScored, Lavezzi is severely lacking in other areas, the sort of areas that turn a good player into a world class performer.
|Comparing PSG's attacking players|
|Player||Starts||Goals||Assists||Shots||Pass Comp||Key Pass||Dribbles|
|Stats via WhoScored.com|
Despite his excellent end to the season, Lavezzi finished with nine league goals and no assists. When you delve deeper into what he actually brings to this PSG side, you end up coming up short of positives. Pace, energy and determination are great qualities, but PSG need more if they are to compete with the best in Europe.
Lavezzi was given ample amount of game time on the left of the PSG attack, but he failed to turn that into goals, chances and opportunities for his team-mates.
No one is expecting him to compete with Ibrahimovic or Cavani for the amount of goals scored, but to finish with no assists in 24 league games, for an attacker playing beside two forwards scoring 42 goals over season is extremely poor.
Lavezzi is often criticised for not hitting the target often enough, but it seems he is actually failing to attempt enough shots on goal. With six less starts to his name, Lucas Moura tried more shots, completed more passes and attempted nearly four times as many dribbles than the Argentine winger.
To be honest, Lavezzi could leave PSG this summer even if they do NOT sign Angel di Maria. El Pocho's stock will never be higher IMO. #PSG— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) July 14, 2014
More often than not it is Lucas Moura that receives the criticism from the PSG faithful. Lavezzi’s energy and work rate mask the fact that he actually offers the attack very little when he is given the ball.
The above stats show that the much younger Lucas Moura is far more productive when given minutes on the pitch. Lavezzi may have the experience and his place in the squad as an important voice and character are merited, but his quality on the pitch for a side trying to push towards a Champions League triumph is lacking in all the important areas.
|Lavezzi v Di Maria|
|Player||Starts||Goals||Assists||Shots||Pass Complete||Key Passes||Dribbles|
|Stats via WhoScored.com|
PSG are now looking at alternatives, Angel Di Maria has been the subject of a £50 million bid, reports ESPN FC, and his productivity last season for Real Madrid swamps Lavezzi in nearly every category.
If PSG are serious about challenging for European honours, Lavezzi is not the player that is going to get them to the top. He would suit a lot of clubs, and they will acquire a player that will always give his all through the toughest of circumstances.
However, at this stage, PSG need more, and Lavezzi doesn’t have the qualities that the French champions need to improve.
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