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Likely Cost: €40m
Another player who has had a huge year in 2010, the young Argentine is a highly gifted playmaker whose technical brilliance and creativity have brought him a host of suitors from across Europe. It is less than 18 months since Pastore moved to Italian club Palermo as an inexperienced youngster, but right now he is one of the hottest properties around.
Pastore usually operates as the creative spark behind Palermo’s front two, but this season has developed a real eye for goal, with his seven goals in 12 games so far putting him amongst Serie A’s top scorers.
Far from a typical Argentine playmaker, at 6’2”, Pastore can dominate opponents physically as well as technically and has every attribute necessary to succeed at the top level.
Likelihood of Signing? In January? 1/10 Next summer? 6/10
The links between Barca and Pastore have been frequent in both the Italian and Spanish press since the summer, with Pastore either inviting Barca to make a bid, or reaffirming his commitment to Palermo depending on who you believe.
One thing is for sure, if Barca are to sign Pastore, they will have to part with big bucks, as the youngster price tag seems to rise every time he takes to the field. After establishing himself in Argentina’s national squad, Pastore has shown himself to be one of Serie A’s top young stars so far this season and recently scored his first career hat-trick in Palermo’s local derby against Catania.
Barca will be counting on Pastore’s relationship with close friend Lionel Messi and international captain Javier Mascherano to put them in pole position for the midfielder, with Real Madrid and AC Milan also strongly linked. Palermo chairman Maurizio Zamparini has claimed Pastore will only leave the club for €70m, although the outspoken Italian has a penchant for outlandish claims, particularly when it comes to the value of his playing staff.
A move in January seems unlikely, particularly with Pastore’s price tag and the imminent arrival of Ibrahim Afellay, but next summer will likely be an eventful one in the Argentine’s future. Barca will have to weigh up whether to pursue Pastore or return with a bid for Cesc Fabregas, as signing both seems out of the question financially, but if they don’t act fast then they may miss out on one of the most talented youngsters in world football.