UEFA President Michel Platini paid Paris Saint-Germain’s new darling Javier Pastore a glowing comment by identifying a similarity between him and Les Bleus legend Zinedine Zidane.
Platini, who in his own right is a crown in the jewel of French football folklore, has been gazing his watchful eyes on the man who is taking Ligue 1 by storm.
He is undoubtedly impressed, as we all are, as to how easily he has adapted to a new league and country since his €40m move from Italy in such a short space of time.
Speaking to Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport, Platini said:
“Pastore is a really interesting player. He reminds me of Zidane for being capable of making the midfield go forward. He is very good with the ball and goes straight to goal.”
To be labelled in the higher echelons of football greats – not too many higher than Zizou – is a flattering comment for any player. When you assess the similarities between both men, Platini’s point is more than valid.
Although Zidane was a creative force in midfield, he was not one for being box to box and bursting forward into the penalty area. His guile would linger on the outskirts of the 18-yard area and influence the game from a deeper position. He undoubtedly had the capability of bursting a gut and getting forward by taking on players but his enchanting elegance with a ball at his feet was kept simple, yet effective.
Pastore you can say is a blend of all of Zizou’s attributes and a little bit more. The Argentinean likes to get forward and offer his assistance in and around the penalty area – giving him more opportunities in front of goal. His enchanting buccaneering runs from the middle of the pitch are ever so reminiscent to that of Zidane. His nimble footwork can enable him to open up pockets of space to run into and subsequently linkup with a teammate.
One thing Zidane was renowned for was his sublime control of the ball. He had the balance to caress it with his feet whilst having to make do with the vigorous contact of opposition players doing their utmost to dispossess him – more likely than not to no avail.
Defenders in Ligue 1 are currently facing that conundrum with Pastore. He too can work the ball with his feet like a paintbrush to a canvas. So swift, so smooth, making it look effortless. Even for such a lean man, he has the strength of a bull to hold off players and keep control of the ball.
The irony of their career in general is that Zidane sought pastures new in Italy from France, whereas Pastore has done the opposite. During his time with Palermo (Pastore) he developed his game technically, refining it in an all round manner both with his feet and psychologically. In two seasons with the Rosanero he played in a team that allowed him the creative freedom to influence their attack. His involvement aided two successive qualifications to the UEFA Europa League and came within three points of qualifying for the Champions League in 2010.
Zidane moved from Bordeaux to Juventus in 1996 and became the world’s greatest player in just two years. He was however complemented by Didier Deschamps and Edgar Davids who played just behind him with the potent Alessandro Del Piero playing up top. That in essence made him a better player by being supported with a varied mix of football personnel. Pastore is discovering that within the capital, in having the stability of Blaise Matuidi, Mathieu Bodmer in the middle and having a proven finisher in Kevin Gameiro feeding off his service. Not to mention Jeremy Menez and Nene who allow width for balls to be dispersed to.
Although Pastore is gifted technically, by having players with the pedigree to supplement make him far more superior on the pitch. You can have all the god given talent in the world but you need that balance in a team to express yourself and make you a better player. In the long term it will develop his game greatly.
It is evident that both players’ attributes are scarily reminiscent to one another. Platini made an analogy that may have been scoffed at – seeing as inferior talent has been given the same recognition – but his point is not to too far from the truth.
If Pastore can continue his form in this sort of vain, both he and his club will reap the benefits of a long and prosperous future together.