In the summer of 2011, Qatar Sports Investments acquired Paris Saint-Germain Football Club and financed a project aimed at taking the Parisian club to the summit of European soccer. Signed in the same summer for 42 million Euros (a club record at the time), Javier Pastore was the first big money signing of the new Qatari owners. Since then, the likes of Ibrahimovic,Thiago Silva and Cavani have joined the current crop of players. Pastore in particular was brilliant in his first three months; however, the Argentine has failed to live up to the hype that surrounded him at his arrival.
Pastore is the type of player that struggles at any position other than the number ten role (attacking central midfield). Positioned behind forward Kevin Gameiro in Antoine Kombouare‘s 4-2-3-1 shortly after his arrival, Pastore performed very well as he was playing in his best position. He is a number ten that likes to play between the lines, get on the ball a lot and dictate the tempo of the game without having to do much defensively. Pastore’s performances started to drop when Carlo Ancelotti arrived and immediately switched to a less common 4-3-2-1 where he had more defensive duties. Desperate to make the most of his big money signing, Ancelotti tried him in a right central midfield role in a 4-3-3 which was quickly abandoned partly due to Pastore’s inability to fulfill the defensive duties required in his new role. He had more success when played as a left midfielder when PSG moved to a 4-4-2 following an embarrassing defeat at Nice in December 2012.
When Laurent Blanc was appointed this summer, Pastore was handed starts in the first two games in a left midfield role in a 4-4-2. The problems really started when PSG switched to a 4-3-3 using him as a right central midfielder. He again didn’t perform well but was kept in the starting XI by Blanc despite the critics until he was injured three weeks ago. Marco Verratti deputized for him and he has since established himself in the starting XI thanks to his great performances. Motta,Verratti and Matuidi seem to be Blanc’s first options in midfield and rightly so, as PSG have won four of the five games they started together including a wonderful performance against Benfica in Tuesday’s Champion’s League contest. If Blanc keeps his 4-3-3 or switches back to a 4-4-2, Lavezzi, Lucas and Menez seem to be better options than Pastore to play on the wings. They are natural wingers who have got pace, can cross the ball, cut infield and also defend when out of possession.
In order for Pastore to play at his best, Blanc would have to play him as a number ten which seems impossible looking at the way PSG play. At the moment, Blanc simply cannot afford to give him that luxury. His 4-3-3 has been working really well and it is very unlikely that he will change it just to accommodate Pastore. Cavani and Ibrahimovic are the star players and the team is built around them. Pastore needs to learn a new role like Cavani did (he’s a striker who has been playing as a right winger this season). His future in the French capital heavily depends on it.