Palermo Trio: The Rise of Javier Pastore, Josip Illcic and Armin Bacinovic
Palermo finished fifth last season to tie their highest table position since achieving promotion to Serie A in 2004. The Aquile (Eagles) have been in fine form this season, aside from a recent five game slide.
Their last five games have included four losses where they were held scoreless, and the team has not registered a goal since their 2-4 loss to Fiorentina back on February 13th. Over this same time period, Palermo has allowed 13 goals against, and has seen a dramatic slide in their table position, now knocked down to 10th. In all, they dropped 15 potential points, vital games lost that could have had them sitting in fourth place had they turned them into victories, and built upon their sold defeat of Juventus on February 2nd.
Nonetheless, the young midfield including three rising stars ages 21 and 23 has been the driving force of the Sicilian club all season. The future of the club looks bright if they could hold onto them all, but the summer transfer window looms and could see at least one of them leave.
Javier Pastore: A Sensation in the Making?
Javier Pastore is perhaps one of the most talked about young attacking midfielders in the game today. The 21-year old Argentine helped to lead Palermo to a brilliant start to the season before they have slipped off. In particular, Pastore's pace and flair put him into the top class of the league.
He has been mentioned with transfer rumors all over the European Leagues from Chelsea to Barcelona, and was even believed to have been courted by Manchester City (imagine that) on the last day of the January Transfer Window.
Palermo supposedly already have a €50 Million Euro offer for the youngster, but no suitor has been named. It is unclear if the rumor is true or if it is being used to start a bidding war as Palermo will most certainly cash in during this summer or next January.
Pastore has been the Rosanero's leading scorer this season having put 10 goals into the back of the net and collected 4 assists along the way.
Josip Ilicic: Slovenian Playmaker Takes Serie A by Storm
Josip Ilicic arrived in Sicily only days after his former club Maribor upset the Italians 3-2 in the Europa League. His arrival showed that an attacking prowess and taste for goal had come along with him, and his first goal in Serie A was against Inter at home. His second came only four days later against Juventus.
He certainly has made his mark since moving to the Island in the South and is yet to look back. His undisclosed but estimated modest price tag in the late summer of €2.3 Million Euros looks to be on the rise along with his stock. Liverpool is one of many clubs believed to be in the hunt to acquire the young winger according to both Givemefootball.com and Sky Sports.
The 23-year old is Palermo's second leading scorer of the campaign with 8 goals behind Pastore's 10, and he has the Argentine beat on assists with 5 to his name.
Armin Bacinovic: The Glue of the Trifecta
Fellow Slovenian Armin Bacinovic came to Palermo the same time as his compatriot and teammate Josip Ilicic from Moribor. The 21-year old quickly earned a spot in the Aquile starting XI soon after his arrival as he provided stability to the midfield.
While Pastore and Ilicic are the flair that drive the goals into the net, Bacinovic is the support in the heart of midfield alongside Antonio Nocerino and Giulio Migliaccio. His partnership and understanding with Ilicic from their previous club more than likely is to account for some of it. The rest is chocked up to talent.
Bacinovic has put in two goals and earned one assist in his 25 starts for Palermo, and looks the most likely of the three to remain on the Island during the summer.
Conclusion: Youth and Vigor Leading Their Team
The three youngsters have been it for the Rosanero this season. Between them they account for 20 of the teams 44 Serie A goals, 45.5% of the teams overall haul.
Their assists tally adds up to 10 of 29 for the club having 34.5% of the share.
It is almost certain that Pastore will move on in the summer with Palermo seeking to take the money and run. Ilicic will most likely follow the January or summer after unless an offer is too good for them to pass, and Bacinovic will most likely remain for the longest of the three.
Imagine if they could all stay together and Palermo had the funds to build around them.
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