Arsenal and Liverpool have both been linked with a move for Paris Saint-Germain's Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore, but do either side really need him?
The former Palermo star has failed to settle in France, and his days appear to be numbered under Laurent Blanc. The former French boss has started his reign by playing a 4-4-2 formation, which Pastore doesn't fit in.
16 goals and eight assists in his first season went some way to repaying his £33.5m transfer fee, but the purchases of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas pushed Pastore further down the pecking order, and his goal tally halved during the 2012/13 season as a result. Now with a new system that focuses on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and another big money purchase, Edinson Cavani, Pastore looks to be heading for the Parc des Princes exit door.
This has alerted teams in the Premier League, as both Arsenal and Liverpool prepare moves for the 24-year-old, according to the Daily Star.
From Arsenal's perspective, it seems a strange suggestion. Pastore's best position is as an attacking midfielder, and not only do Arsenal have attack-minded midfielders in abundance, but they have just spent £42.5m on Mesut Ozil. Having been a periphery figure with PSG, it's unlikely that another similar role will appeal to Pastore, and he doesn't really fit as a winger in a 4-3-3 system, which is what Arsene Wenger utilises at the Emirates Stadium.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are still on the lookout for attacking players, despite the burgeoning partnership between Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. The flexibility of those two players means that the Reds can be diverse with their formations and positions, but whereas Brendan Rodgers' Swansea team was predicated on two fast wingers – Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer – fitting Suarez, Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Pastore into one team would surely leave them without a true wide player, even after the loan capture of Victor Moses.
Pastore's career has stalled and a move away from France is exactly what he needs in January, particularly if he wants to regain his place as a key player in Alejandro Sabella's Argentina squad before the World Cup next summer. After featuring for just 96 minutes through the entirety of the qualifying phase, the odds are against Pastore making the squad, and whilst it's now expected that he leaves Paris, a move back to Serie A appears to make more sense than a move to either Arsenal or Liverpool, with AC Milan also lining up a move to bring him back to Italy.
image: © michael hilton