There was an article in Le Parisien a few weeks back that questioned Ezequiel Lavezzi’s role in the team. It is argued that for a player of his ability, he underperforms in games and should be offering more. Laurent Blanc also said not too long back that he expects more from the Argentine in a creative sense. But, after suffering a personal tragedy two weeks ago with the death of his uncle, ‘El Pocho’ is silencing his critics after a string of good performances.
Lavezzi is a likeable guy and very popular in the changing room at the Parc des Princes. He is pivotal in the camaraderie of the squad. The influx of Spanish/Italian speakers in the group is a huge reason in the group’s closeness. Lavezzi is a part of that which is no secret. Having the respect of your peers is massive in football and the 28-year-old has that.
But, there was a deliberation as to what else he brings to the team. His lack of goals and assists being the main concern. First and foremost, nobody can question his endeavour. This is a player that runs his socks off, works for the team and will always put a shift in. Too many times however, he has been ineffective in games which have passed him by. Last winter he was heavily linked with a move back to Italy with Internazionale. He said himself that he was unsure of the future as he was not happy with his performances. He was very honest in an interview with Le Parisien where he said; “I don’t know (if he will stay). Players never really know about those things. But what I can tell you is that I am going to do everything to change my situation in Paris because I’m not giving the best image of myself and I don’t want that to continue”. Those links away dampened down ever since he netted against Sochaux last December in a 5-1 win at the Parc. That did not bring an immediate upturn but it was a start. Especially as he had not scored in a blue shirt since August.
He plays on the left-hand side of the three man attack. When Edinson Cavani has been fit, he along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been predominantly Blanc’s first choice trio. With Edi and Zlatan having their place in the team assured, Lavezzi, Lucas Moura, Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez have been vying it out for the remaining spot. With Cavani being out injured over the past month and Pastore being ushered into a central midfield role, Lavezzi and Lucas have been the two men to support Ibra. Both similar in build but Lucas offers more flair than Lavezzi. But, ‘El Pocho’ is more robust, can track back but is also lightning quick. There is a nice blend between the two.
With Cavani due to return against Marseille in some capacity, Lavezzi has done himself a world of good with his performances of late. It makes it even more incredible after his personal tragedy due to the death of his uncle. The bearded Argentine took the time to thanks his fans on Instagram for their support, emphasising the humility of the man. He scored against Valenciennes in the 3-0 win on Valentine’s Day and immediately pointed to the heavens. That performance remonstrated to everyone that he has the heart of a warrior. Some players would have been mentally drained after an ordeal like that – understandably as well – but ‘El Pocho’ gave his all. He was man of the match for me in that game.
He netted a crucial goal in the victory over Toulouse yesterday afternoon. It was not a classic performance by Les Parisiens by any stretch of the imagination. Nevertheless, it was a huge victory to open the gap to five points ahead of Monaco. Lavezzi not only scored, he won the first penalty which was dispatched by Ibra.
Lavezzi now needs be consistent with his displays. It is no good to have short bursts and then go on a spell where he is anonymous in games. But, he has improved drastically of late. He realised himself that he was not playing to his potential and he must be given credit for the honesty. The beautiful thing is that the player has rectified the negative press for the time being. Let’s hope that this continues but if most players had a heart beating like Lavezzi’s, not too many would have their attitude questioned. Keep it up Pocho!