Don’t go. Please. I’ll miss you.
You arrived in Serie A as a relative unknown all the way back in July 2009, after your adventure with Huracan almost helped them to the 2009 Clausura back in Argentina. Your performance against River Plate, demolishing the Argentine giants, earned you many plaudits but it your slight frame – hence your nickname ‘El Flaco‘ – and lack of tactical awareness left the biggest European sides unwilling to take a risk on you.
At Palermo under Walter Zenga, you had to be content with coming off the bench for the majority of your first season and we were teased and drip fed small portions of your talent. Zenga remained resolute until his dismissal though “Until he understands how to play football, I will substitute him“.
You’re only 22, and Serie A will miss your youth – I can see the average age creeping up as you read this. Had you chosen any other team we may have never seen what you could do. You really should thank Delio Rossi. Once he was made Palermo manager, he trusted you and you began to thrive in this new found comfort zone. Rossi gave you freedom to express yourself in an all out attacking Palermo team – and what a side it was; you almost made the Champions League in 2009/10.
Standing at 6’2″ (1.87m), you’re running and dribbling was a marvelous sight to behold. Running in space, your stride gave you a beautiful languid running style, like a gazelle bouncing through the savannah. You were traveling quite fast while appearing to go slowly, with grace and balance to boot.
With the ball at your feet things change completely, you were versatile enough to adapt and use shorter pigeon steps to negotiate your way around 2, 3 and sometimes even 4 defenders. Intelligence, ingenuity and lightning fast reactions showed you off as one of the best in the league.
Dribbling is greedy though, you’ve certainly had plenty of chances to be greedy – but it doesn’t suit. Receiving more passes than any other player in Serie A last season (1875). Your eye for a pass is superb, and will only improve with age. Making bold and courageous on the counter attack is how you’ve made your name – remember that assist for Miccoli to score the first goal against Juventus in February? Please don’t allow anyone to drill that audacity out of you.
International football for you hasn’t quite begun yet, but in a few years time – together with Leonel Messi – you’re destined to be the centre of the Albiceleste setup. Indeed, in the post Copa America debrief, many have clamoured for your inclusion into the Argentine midfield because of what they have seen you do. You could be the next great playmaker for a side that has gifted football so many wonderful no. 10s already, as long as you stay on track.
Things haven’t always gone your way though, and you can’t win ‘em all, but we can easily excuse your errors. You’re still young and, implicitly, you will experience such peaks and troughs as though you are trapped in a kind of footballing puberty until your mid 20s. It must’ve been tough last season, going from being the most attractive team in Italy in the first half of the campaign to what can only be described as a total mess in early 2011.
There have been games where everything seems to be going perfectly well, and then Palermo contrive to make fatal mistakes. Seven of them, against Udinese. You obviously have a decent amount of mental fortitude to be able to bounce back after that. We’ll miss that too.
We know you’re not a fan of defending – not that Palermo will have been able to teach you how. As the opposition advances toward your goal you’ll be in position to receive a clearance, but we won’t have you wasting your energy track back to tackle. No thanks.
Palermo will sell you when the ‘right’ offer comes, which is understandable for a club that size. Your beloved chairman, Maurizio Zamparini, has been talking incessantly about you. Your price tag has been firmly tied around your slim neck for some time, but the price has definitely been scrawled in pencil. It has been as much as €25m, then €50m, €45m, €60m, even €100 million Euro!
Throughout all of his chatter you have made it very clear to the fans just how happy you are to be at, and stay at, Palermo. Humility and loyalty are completely unrecognisable qualities in the current era.
Wherever you go next, Chelsea or PSG, you’re bound to find older players with egos and ideas above their station. Stay true to yourself, and try not to allow yourself to be weighed down by that hefty transfer fee – your skinny legs won’t take it.
I look forward to your future successes, the Champions League beckons, and I’ll never forget these past two seasons in Palermo. The truth is that I’ll look on with my eyes green with envy at all of those French or English fans who get to enjoy your company, your spirit, your potentially phenomenal skill. Especially if you go to Chelsea. I’ll have to sit there, Javier, with people around me who simply don’t appreciate your skill, who won’t allow you time to adjust and who want their monies worth now in the form of running, goals and non stop magic. Hopefully it’ll work out OK.
I’m not one for tearful goodbyes, Javier. So let’s just leave it at arrivederci.
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