Why Javier Pastore Has Been PSG's Find of the Season

Jonathan Johnson@@Jon_LeGossipFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2015

PSG's Javier Pastore reacts after scoring the first goal against Nice in their French League One soccer match, Saturday, April 18, 2015, in Nice stadium, southeastern France. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

It might sound strange calling a player in his fourth season with Paris Saint-Germain the capital club’s “find” of the season, but that is exactly what Javier Pastore has been for Les Parisiens this campaign.

Jean-Christophe Bahebeck made an early case for being considered Laurent Blanc’s discovery of the term, but the 22-year-old has rarely featured during the second half of the season and his end of campaign has been ruined by injury.

Michel Euler/Associated Press

Serge Aurier is another who might have challenged for that title, but the Ivorian’s season has been dogged by fitness problems. A few young starlets from the club’s academy have made appearances with the first team over the course of this term, but none of them have had enough of an impact to be considered a revelatory unearthing.

This leaves Pastore as the most obvious candidate.

A player returning to form or from a long-injury lay-off being “like a new signing” is an old cliche, but in El Flaco’s case it could not be closer to the truth.

The Argentinian initially impressed at Parc des Princes after his debut 2011-12 season that saw him score 13 Ligue 1 goals and lay on another five. However, his two following campaigns were less productive, with four league goals and eight assists in 2012-13 followed by one solitary Championnat goal and three assists in 2013-14.

Pastore, with five Ligue 1 goals and 10 assists to his name so far this season, has rediscovered himself and because of that, PSG have regained a talent that many—including myself—had feared lost.

Jacques Brinon/Associated Press

The French capital outfit spent the majority of last summer chasing Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria before he eventually opted to join Manchester United instead when it became obvious that UEFA’s financial fair play sanctions were going to prevent the French giants from bringing in the Argentina international.

However, few were banking on Di Maria’s compatriot to step up and once again play a key role, so PSG’s squad looked thinner than it actually was when the season got underway.

David Vincent/Associated Press

It soon became obvious that Pastore’s good pre-season form was here to stay though, and the 25-year-old swiftly re-established himself as part of Blanc’s preferred starting XI, having dropped out last campaign because of his poor displays.

Although it took him until the 3-2 win away at FC Metz in late November to add to the pair of assists he racked up in the 2-2 draw at Stade de Reims on the opening day of the season, that does not mean that Pastore only started to hit form at that time.

Statistics such as goals scored and assists provided can be useful in making certain points, but you often do not get the whole picture regarding a player’s performances.

OptaJean @OptaJean

5 - Top 5 most assists in the top five leagues in 2015 : Leo Messi 11 @Javi_Pastore 9 @DeBruyneKev 9 @LuisSuarez9 9 @dimpayet17 8 Altruist.

This is certainly true in Pastore’s case because although he was not racking up goals and assists numerically, he was the architect of countless goals during the first half of the season and the quality of his displays have been so superior to last campaign’s that he is unrecognisable from the player PSG were struggling to get the best out.

Jacques Brinon/Associated Press

Since the start of 2015, El Flaco has been adding substance to his unmistakable style.

Five goals and eight assists in all domestic competitions has started to back up the claims that he has been Les Parisiens’ best player this season. Those numbers have also lent further legitimacy to his hopes of being named the national Union of Professional Footballers’ (UNFP) Ligue 1 Player of the Year this coming weekend.

Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press

It might not have been PSG’s finest season in comparison with last season’s domestic double-winning exploits, but Blanc’s men could still usurp those achievements by winning an unprecedented domestic treble this term.

Regardless, it has been one of Pastore’s best campaigns since arriving in France.

The re-emergence of the Argentinian was a key reason why the capital club were fighting on all four fronts up until last month, and he will be remembered as one of the main protagonists if PSG are celebrating a famous treble come Saturday May 30 at Stade de France.


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