Well that’s what they say he’s going to become, anyway. Javier Pastore, the just-turned-20-year-old hero of Huracán’s championship challenge during the Torneo Clausura, was unveiled as the newest signing at Palermo, where he told the press, ‘my model is Riquelme.’ Elsewhere in Europe, various Argentines played in pre-season friendlies for their clubs, including Javier Mascherano, who’s still at Liverpool for now. And down ol’ South America way, Maxi López won the Porto Alegre derby for Grêmio over Andrés D’Alessandro’s Internacional.
For some reason, Pastore has been given the number 6 by Palermo, who rather than compare him with his compatriot decided to introduce him as, ‘the new Kaká.’ Asked about that billing, Pastore told the press; ‘He’s the most complete [player] in the world, and it would be a dream to reach his level… but my model is Riquelme.’ He eulogised the club’s forward Fabrizio Miccoli and their manager Walter Zenga, saying he looked forward to working with both of them. His compatriot Nicolás Bertolo, a Copa Libertadores winner with Boca Juniors in 2007, will be able to help him find his feet at his new club. And he had one parting shot; ‘The ladies will be content with my decision to come and play here.’ As long as they don’t see you wearing pink, Javier…
As for those already in Europe, there were some long-awaited returns to action. Javier Mascherano, the captain of the selección, has been having admiring glances cast his way by both Real Madrid and Barcelona over the summer so far, but nothing as yet has been said firmly about him. Thus it was that he played twenty-five minutes of Liverpool’s 1-0 friendly loss away to Rapid Vienna, replacing his countryman Emiliano Insúa.
Elsewhere in friendlies: two former River Plate players, goalkeeper Franco Constanzo and forward Federico Almerares featured for Basel in their agonising 2-1 win over Aarau, and Gonzalo Zárate started for Grasshoppers, who beat Sion 3-1. Mariano Biglia came on in the second half for Anderlecht, and converted a penalty after a 2-2 draw with Athletic Bilbao; Anderlecht won the shootout 4-3, to claim third place in a quadrangular tournament in Portugal.
López’s winner in the classico gaúcho came when he pounced on a ball which countryman Pablo Guiñazú had been unable to control to slam home what proved to be the winner in a match which finished 2-1 to Grêmio. Andrés D’Alessandro also played for Internacional, much sooner than expected after a planned three-month ban for headbutting an opponent in a Copa Brasil match was commuted during the week.