Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe curious case of Giampaolo Pazzini and which Milan club got the better end of the swap deal - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The curious case of Giampaolo Pazzini and which Milan club got the better end of the swap deal - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The curious case of Giampaolo Pazzini and which Milan club got the better end of the swap deal


In football, the summer transfer market is as often as exciting as the season itself, and this past summer was no exception. Whether it was Robin Van Persie’s switch from Arsenal to Manchester United, Luka Modric’s transfer from Tottenham to Real Madrid, Jordi Alba’s move from Valencia to Barcelona, fans of the beautiful game weren’t lacking for interesting news taking place in their favorite leagues. And not surprisingly, Serie A had its share of interesting moves, notably the transfers of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marco Verratti from Napoli and Pescara to PSG, and highly-touted French youngster Paul Pogba’s arrival at Juventus from Manchester United.

In terms of Serie A, AC Milan grabbed most of the headlines—notably the sale of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to PSG, a move that had many fans and neutrals alike wondering how they’d be able to compete on all 3 fronts this season. However, in addition to this headline-grabbing, mega-money move, there was another transfer, which, although not as lucrative as the T. Silva/Ibrahimovic deal, was still somewhat controversial in that it involved Milan’s rival clubs swapping one player for another.

As we’re all well aware, Milan opted to swap disgruntled forward Antonio Cassano and part with an additional €7 million in favor of Nerazzurri striker Giampaolo Pazzini. From the get-go, observers were skeptical—after all, Pazzini had only scored 5 goals in Serie A, not significantly more than Cassano, who had unfortunately missed nearly half the season following his stroke and subsequent emergency heart surgery, and despite this, performed well enough to receive a well-deserved call-up to gli Azzurri for the Euro 2012 tournament. And as the case with any transfer deal, the questions began to arise as to which club would end up with the better deal; that is, which striker would be the most successful at his new club.

Back in August, although statistics showed that anyone who bet on Cassano being the more successful certainly couldn’t be called naïve, others could argue that a new team, with different types of strikers, could possibly help Pazzini get back on track. However, it’s now November, nearly halfway through the season and to be frank, it’s appearing to be quite obvious who so far, had gotten the better end of the stick. Not only does Cassano have more goals—5—versus Pazzini’s 4, with both strikers having made 11 appearances each, but also has 3 assists, in contrast to Pazzini’s 1. Additionally, “il Pazzo” has taken nearly twice as many shots (21) as Cassano (12), demonstrating the Bari-born player’s more efficient nature in front of goal.

Yes, one can argue they are two different kinds of strikers: Pazzini is more of a poacher while Cassano is more creatively-inclined, but the former’s profligacy in front of goal, especially his 2 month drought following his hat-trick against Bologna must certainly be of some concern to Rossoneri fans, who realistically can’t pin all their hopes on Stephan El-Shaarawy to carry the team. Although he’s extremely talented, putting the 28-year-old Pazzini to shame with his 9 goals in all competitions, one can’t expect the 20-year-old, who was plying his trade with Padova in Serie B only 2 seasons ago to become the prima punta for the squad. Moreover, we’ve all seen what can happen at times when extreme pressure and expectations are placed on a youngster’s shoulders—not only can it stifle their growth, but also cause burn-out that would severely hamper their potential.

Despite their different playing styles, both players have a common history, best described as somewhat nomadic; indeed, both had difficult spells at previous clubs before settling down at Sampdoria, where they formed one of the strongest strike partnerships in Serie A. In fact, thanks to the duo’s prolific scoring abilities, the Genoa-based club qualified for the UEFA cup in 2008-2009, and the Champion’s League playoff stage in the subsequent season. However, due to a disagreement with Chairman Riccardo Garrone on Cassano’s part, and overall financial issues, both were sold to AC Milan and Inter in the winter transfer window. In their debut half seasons with their new clubs, both strikers had an impact, with Pazzini scoring 11 and Cassano being involved for 10 of the Rossoneri’s goals as they claimed the Scudetto for the first time since 2004.

Cassano vs. Pazzini: the stats paint a clear picture




JAN 2011-MAY 2011



SEASON 2011-2012



SEASON 2012-2013




So the question is, why has Cassano appeared to have settled in well with his new club, and in his first 3 months has scored more goals than he did in his two seasons with Milan, and Pazzini seems to, after his hat-trick against Bologna, fallen back into the inconsistency that dogged him during his sophomore season with Inter?

And more important, will “il Pazzo” be able to recreate his form from his debut season at Inter that led some to compare him to legendary poacher Filippo Inzaghi? Or will this hopeful renaissance just be a repeat of last season?

The verdict’s still out on that one. However, 4 league goals in 11 starts, notably finally scoring in Milan’s 5-1 rout of Chievo after a 2 month drought isn’t very encouraging, especially since again, fellow striker El-Shaarawy has double that and he only has 2 more than midfielder Riccardo Montolivo, the 3rd highest scorer for the Rossoneri this season. And if history is any precedent, Milan’s fans, given the club’s poor start, shouldn’t set their hopes too high, and should hope that the club’s other forwards—Pato, Robinho, Bojan, and notably, El-Shaarawy—will be enough for them to overcome what has been a nightmarish start to a season that many had expected would be difficult, but certainly not the worst in 80 years.

by Michelle Bonsu