Do you remember the days when a young Javier Pastore set Serie A alight? I (and Pepperidge Farm) remember. A dynamic Argentinian midfielder who made Palermo sexy, smooth and a fun side to watch (although that could also have been due to its mad president Maurizio ‘a new day, a new coach’ Zamparini).
Pastore took Serie A by storm in 2009 and spent two seasons at Palermo, including 24 goals, a bunch of assists and a ton of wonderful through passes. As a 20-year-old kid in Italy, against defenders like Nesta, Thiago Silva, Cannavaro, Zanetti, Samuel, Mexes, Juan and Chivu that’s mighty impressive. Pastore was a gem, one of a kind, the guy who would make your team click. The ultimate link between your midfield and strikers up front. Defenders hated him, attackers adored him.
Sadly, a Pastore in his prime was always out of reach for Roma. After a record 11 goals in 2010-2011, Palermo simply couldn’t reject any big offers and Javier outgrew the Sicilian city. Roma wasn’t among the contenders, as they only finished sixth that season, Palermo finished eight with only seven points less so Javier sure as hell wasn’t joining the mess in Rome. And Juve was still building its Scudetto juggernaut (they ended seventh, can you imagine that???).
Milan was a possibility, they won the Scudetto under Allegri and some of the finest footballers on earth those days were playing for AC, like Nesta, Seedorf, Ibra, Zambrotta, Pirlo, Robinho and even a 31-year-old Ronaldinho.
However, the Holy Priest surprised his believers and chose the Arab money of PSG. Blasphemy! In 2011 the French club just got new Qatari owners but they weren’t a household name like today. Yes, they were suddenly the richest club in France but their last title was in 1994. Perhaps a bold move from Javier but he prove the doubters wrong and surely in his first season at the club, with 16 goals in 43 games.
Pastore won sixteen trophies at PSG. Nuff said. Although you could note that most of them were ‘bought’ in a way. 90% of those titles were a walk in the park. Marseille, Lyon or Monaco rarely threatened them. Where’s the fun in that? I’d rather play 10 years for Roma, feel depressed and miserable for like seven seasons and then actually win a God damn thing which makes me feel soooo good I wanna touch myself all night long.
Ahum, anyway I’m digressing.
So fast forward seven succesful seasons in France and Javier suddenly is 29, in the twilight zone of his career and looking for a new challenge. Enter AS Roma. Pastore wasn’t a starter anymore, PSG had won everything in France but never got close to the CL. Roma was a semifinalist in 2018 so it made sense Pastore joined us, no?
Well, partly. To be honest, I still wonder why Javier chose Roma that one day in June, but hell, I was so excited to finally see him in Rome. Just think about it: Roma fans had to wait seven years for Pastore. He left Italy and we probably thought he would never return. We were wrong. I’m sure some Roma fans dreamed of that day. Pastore in a Roma jersey, guiding them to glory just like in his good old Palermo days.
Again, boy we were wrong...
I’m not saying Pastore has been a disappointment, it’s just… We saw so little of him. He featured in only eight Serie A games, some as a sub. It started out brightly and he did score two amazing goals, including one backheel. Then the injury happened and the rest is history.
Seven long years and then this crap. Were we too emotional? Too dreamy? Too demanding? To make matters worse for Javier, Pellegrini and especially Zaniolo have been revelations for Roma in the 4-2-3-1 formation so suddenly he’s benched and two younger ‘models’ are battling it out between them.
But Javier will fight back. I know he will. EDF has also used him on the wing a couple of times so that’s a possibility (although it’s not his best position). Remember, we can’t put too much pressure on Zaniolo as well. He’s just a kid and now everything is going great but he’ll experience a setback sooner or later.
And then we’ll need the Priest the most. His experience remains valuable for the club. He’ll need to watch over his friends and guide them through the rough patches, as a true shepherd. In the meantime, Javier has to stay strong.
How ironic. Out of all players in Rome, it’s Pastore who has to keep the faith.