Juventus may have said goodbye to one Argentine forward in the summer, but if reports this week are to be believed, they are looking to add another when the transfer window opens in January.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Ezequiel Lavezzi has been not only linked with a move to Italy’s Old Lady, but apparently the 30-year-old is one of the names at the top of Barcelona’s hit-list.
The link to Max Allegri’s side is fairly believable, with El Pocho playing a starring role at Napoli before moving to the French capital, but going for substitute at PSG to Barcelona, takes a huge pinch of salt to believe – but it does show that perhaps clubs in the Premier League are missing a trick by not looking to tempt the winger across the channel.
From his lack of playing time this season, it’s clear that his time in Ligue 1 is all but over. Playing a front three, two of the places are already taken by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani – the summer arrival of Angel Di Maria then put him behind his fellow countrymen, Javier Pastore and Lucas Moura.
Even youngster, Jean-Kevin Augustin showed more in the way of promise on their pre-season American tour – but that doesn’t mean Lavezzi still couldn’t be valuable to the right club.
In 12 appearances this season he has only started three, but has two goals to his name.
Lavezzi still has that same drive, pace and intensity that he showed both in Serie A and the Parc des Princes, before falling down the pecking order.
With just over six months left on his contract, the time is right to spring a move for the winger, however, his wages could be the stumbling block. Lavezzi makes around €5 million a season in Paris. His expiring deal could see him go for under €4 million, but the player would know that staying in Paris until the end of the season could see him at least match his wages as a free agent.
Tuttosport reported this week that Juventus would offer him up to €3 million on a two-year deal, trying to get a jump on their Spanish rivals. Barcelona’s technical secretary, Robert Fernandez, is backing the Argentine to join the Catalan club once their ban is over in January – thinking they can match his wage demands.
After appearing for PSG in the Champions League, Lavezzi is cup-tied for the rest of the competition, which could limit his options somewhat, but could make him an ideal target for a high level club in England.
His characteristics match that, albeit a little bit older than when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined Borussia Dortmund from Saint-Etienne – but Lavezzi’s quickness across the ground, plus his work rate could spark in interest from Jurgen Klopp at Anfield.
Lavezzi’s versatility to play all along the attack, plus his ability to lead from the front defensively – and his eye for goal – could make him an ideal short term option for the German coach. PSG fans will tell you that his finishing leaves a lot to be desired…and they’d be right, but he does get himself into the right positions.
It was only last season when he scored a hat-trick against Lille in Ligue 1. Playing off the shoulder of the last defender, he is a menace, especially in a team that’s ethos is to press the ball and attack with pace. He is more than just a winger, and if he was to feel wanted and surrounded by the right players, he could still make a massive impact somewhere.
Both Allegri and Luis Enrique are not novices, they have obviously seen something they like in a player with a wealth of experience at the top level.
Lavezzi looks to have come to terms with the fact that his time in France is up: "I think it will be my last year in Paris," he said. "But I'm relaxed and I want to finish in the best way possible."
Why couldn’t that finish come in high-paced, mad-cap world of the Premier League?
English clubs demonstrated this summer that the new TV deal has put them in a very strong financial position. Matching Lavezzi’s demands, especially if you show him he will be used as an important first-team member, could just be enough to tempt him to British shores.