July 2012. Just a few days into Inter’s pre-season training and Giampaolo Pazzini makes the startling admission. “I’ll be honest I believe the club has made its decision and that I’ll no longer be a part of this project.” (Source: ESPN)
How fickle this football business is. It was only a little over a year and a half ago that Giampaolo ‘Pazzo’ Pazzini had well and truly confirmed to the world his standing as a serious striker.
His sensational two goals on his debut for Inter Milan brought his new team back from the dead of 0-2 and inspired a memorable comeback that thrust him into calcio superstardom.
Suddenly the world took notice and started asking: who is this guy that is keeping Milito on the bench? Who is this guy that puts his fingers in a ‘V’ shape under his eyes when he scores?
Well, for those that were even slightly interested in the Serie A, they certainly knew the answer, from his formidable partnership with the mercurial Antonio Cassano at Sampdoria: Giampaolo Pazzini.
For nearly two years Cassano and Pazzini were arguably Italy’s most effective strike-force taking modest Sampdoria into a Champions league qualifying place for the 2009-10 season, playing fun, attacking football with a sublime Cassano, the playmaker and Pazzini the hit man scoring an impressive 19 goals, with 28 between them.
Switch to 6 months later, January 2011, the Blucerchiati lay a credible seventh place fighting once again for a champion’s league place and then the folly of all follies. Sampdoria president Garrone decided to commit football suicide by selling Serie A’s deadliest strike partnership.(eventually paying the price by being relegated that season) First to go was Cassano to Milan and a few weeks later the then Inter manager Leonardo lured Pazzini to the San Siro for a bargain fee of €13 million.
Straight from the off, questions were asked whether the man who scored the first ever hat-trick at the new Wembley could rise to the higher level and scrutiny of the reigning Italian, European and world champions.
A tough ask, but Il Pazzo (the madman or crazy – a slight play on words with his surname) as he is affectionately known, continued the excellent form he had shown at Sampdoria, scoring a more than decent 11 goals in 13 matches, and with that completely turning round the fortunes of the nerazzurri, climbing from a desperate fifth place to a strong finishing second.
Finally a classic number 9 that Italy had been searching for since Christian Vieri seemed to arrive when Italian football needed him most. Strong both in the air and on the floor, combined with his intelligent off the ball movement, hopes were great that the Cassano partnership could be recreated at international level, perhaps even for the 2012 Euro’s. But then the new season started.
With the club in turmoil on and off the pitch, reputed disputes between players, three management changes during the course of the year, an inability to show any consistency and a loss of confidence, all added to a season best forgotten by Pazzini.
A poor return of only five league goals in 33 matches meant the strikers stock diminished. Gone was the swagger and with that gone was his place in Prandelli’s Azzurri squad. All in time to cap off a miserable year.
Fast forward to present day, and a jaded Pazzini looks like his Inter days are coming to an end. But that doesn’t mean his spotlight has to end. An abundance of talent and an eye for goal like his cant disappear overnight and inevitably there have been whispers of interest from Juventus, Lazio, and even his old team Sampdoria. (Source: Football Italia)
Come what may, in the next month, of rumours, fantasy and the craziness of the transfer window I sense there will be someone willing to gamble on the 27 year old, and why not. They would be crazy not to.
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