Monday, January 15, 2007Story about Macedonian hope for Pancev's heir
Macedonian football has long been calling for a genuine superstar and current SS Lazio forward Goran Pandev has the ability and potential to provide the small landlocked Balkan nation with something to cheer about. This is a story about a footballer born on July 27th, 1983 in Strumica, Macedonia.
As a youngster it was clear that Pandev had the talent and potential to make it in the world game, which is what prompted Italian giants Internazionale to acquire his services. Pandev spent some time with Inter's youth team along with fellow Macedonian young gun Aco Stojkov and both helped Inter win the youth championship. While Pandev was ready for first team football, places at Inter being fiercely competitive meant he was loaned out to Spezia in the Italian lower divisions and then to Ancona in order to progress.
Pandev in the Serie A
Ancona gave him valuable Serie A experience helping develop his footballing ability during the 2003/04 season where he played 20 matches, 7 as a substitute scoring one goal. As the 2004/05 season got underway Pandev was on the move to SS Lazio (albeit as part of a transfer that included Stankovic to Inter). Pandev scored the only goal of the game in the 2005 season opener giving Lazio a deserved 1-0 win over Messina. Pandev made over 25 appearances for Lazio in his debut season, 15 as a substitute scoring 4 goals with Di Canio and company making sure starting opportunities were extremely competitive.
2005/06 saw Pandev improve tremendously with 34 appearances, 20 of those as a starter with a great return of 11 goals while during the current campaign Pandev has been an integral part of the Lazio team starting 17 matches and with 5 goals and 1 assist thus far.
His performances for Lazio have ensured that Pandev has been a critical component of the Macedonian national team and to date Pandev has been capped over 25 times and scored 10 goals for the Macedonian national team and there is surely plenty more to come as the Macedonians endeavour to qualify for the 2008 European Championship.
Pandev is one of a few Macedonians to play in the Italian Serie A. Darko Pancev was the first, having had a brief and unsuccessful stint with Internazionale in the early 90's, while players with Macedonian descent such as Marek Jankulovski and Romania’s player of the century Gheorghi Hagi have also plied their trade in the Serie A.
Pancev vs Pandev
Many will argue that Darko Pancev is the greatest Macedonian footballer though it is somewhat contentious to compare the two players who had different playing styles. Both brought different qualities to their respective teams. Darko Pancev was without a doubt a great goal poacher however Goran Pandev has the abilities that Darko Pancev did not posses in my opinion. Playing in arguably the most difficult league in the world, Goran Pandev has been impressive in his few seasons of regular football with Lazio showing his flair, skill and creativity on the ball along with his eye for goal. Who could forget the truly dazzling run where he twisted and turned through the Juventus defence before unleashing a ferocious strike into the Juventus net during the 2004-05 Serie A season. Another truly wonderful Pandev goal came against Empoli where he received the ball just inside the box turned two defenders went past another and smashed the ball home into the roof of the net.
Darko Pancev on the other hand only truly shone for Vardar in their championship winning team and then at Red Star Belgrade where he helped the team to a memorable European Champions Cup triumph in the early 1990s. It is not to say that Darko Pancev was not a great player for Macedonia, Red Star or even the former Yugoslavia. Yet in arguably the world’s toughest league Darko Pancev struggled to adapt to life at Internazionale and the rigours of Italian football and thus can not be seen to be in the same league as Goran Pandev. Pandev has shown in a short time that he is a proven goal scorer for Lazio in the Serie A and for Macedonia at international level.
To leave or not to leave that is the question?
Today the question is not whether Goran Pandev is a great player but whether he will stay at Lazio with the rumoured financial troubles affecting the club. Does Pandev want to stay? Pandev has stated his ambition to move to what is the world’s most popular domestic league – the English Premier League. Rumours were flying last northern summer on his proposed move to Arsenal and then to Everton on loan whilst also being linked with a move to Bundesliga club Werder Bremen yet nothing eventuated. Tactically and technically the EPL is not of the same standard as La Liga or the Serie A, however, it is still of great quality and as an overall product the EPL is hands downs the best league in the world with greatest viewing reach being beamed into over 190 countries world-wide.
With the rumour mill working overtime with the January transfer period just opening the question many football fans of Lazio, Macedonia and Goran Pandev are asking is where will the Strumica born magician end up going?
The Bundesliga is by far the worst option for Goran Pandev as it is hardly going to help him develop as a player anymore than Pandev would do at Lazio or another Serie A club. Interestingly enough there has been little mention of a move to Spain, where a player with Pandev’s qualities would surely settle quickly and truly offer the fans something to cheer about.
The recent speculation linking Pandev to Rangers of Scotland can not be seen as anything but a backward step for the Lazio forward and surely it would be better to stay in Italy than move to Scotland where the league arguably second rate by continental European standards. A move to the EPL is what Pandev reportedly wants yet a move to a club like Arsenal or Chelsea is not the way to go. Pandev would be much better suited at a club like Everton, Tottenham or even Liverpool where he would surely get more game time and could even be used on the flank if need be such is his versatility.
Whether Pandev stays in Italy only time will tell. Whether or not Pandev takes his game and career to the next level is entirely up to him. In order to become the player he is capable of being Pandev needs to find more consistency. On numerous occasions Pandev has won goal of the week in Italy, Europe and has also been picked in the team of the week in Italy. No one will deny the lad has an abundance of skill, potential and that he is already a great talent as many have seen from the amazing examples of individual brilliance already shown. However Pandev needs to exhibit his brilliance more frequently if he is to become a truly recognisable superstar of the world game.
With his current performances for Lazio and Macedonia the future for Pandev surely looks bright. Still at only 23 years of age and not yet reaching his peak, one can be sure that Pandev will be delighting fans at Lazio and around Europe for many years to come and when the this young Macedonian reaches his peak at 26+ defenders of Europe watch out!
Labels: Football Essays