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Javier Pastore, the Next in PSG's Long Line of Extremely Talented No. 10s

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 Zlatan Ibrahimovic leaving Paris Saint-Germain not only left the champions without their all-time leading goalscorer, but it meant that the No. 10 jersey was left vacant. An iconic shirt that has been worn by club legends over the past 30 years.

 Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore were the favourites to land the coveted shirt, and it was the Argentinian playmaker who was given the nod.

 

 With it, the former Palermo man was handed an opportunity to take his game to another level. This is Pastore's opportunity to become a PSG legend.      

 

The spotlight has now been turned on the mercurial talent, and if he’s struggling for inspiration, he has a whole host of names to look back on and try to emulate.    

 

Yugoslavian Safet Susic joined the club in the 1980s and became the club's first superstar. Mustapha Dahleb was the goalscorer, but without Susic, Dahleb wouldn't have had the chance to rack up his impressive number of goals.      

 

Scruffy hair, baggy white jersey, on first impressions, Susic didn't look like a world beater, but as soon as he got the ball at his feet, your opinion quickly changed.      

 

Not the strongest; not the quickest, but he would drift past defenders with the faintest of touches. Changing direction in the blink of an eye, his dribbling looked effortless.

 

Susic's acceleration to beat his man was almost unstoppable, but his awareness and close control made him unmarkable. Before the league started assigning squad numbers, it's hard to tell who was the regular No. 10 back in the 1970s.

 

Bernard Guignedoux and Jean-Pierre Dogliani were the early stars, but it was Susic's arrival in 1982 that raised the bar at the Parc des Princes. In his first season in the capital, with three goals in two legs in the final against FC Tours, he helped the club lift the Coupe de France. Named Foreign Player of the Year in the French league in his first campaign, sadly, the league title in 1986 was the only other trophy he would lift in Paris.

 

Susic's departure would lead to the arrival of Valdo. Not heralded as a hero in his own country, the Brazilian is fondly remembered for his time at PSG. He is the player who ushered in a wonderful and long-standing Latin relationship in the French capital. The quiet Brazilian wasn't a larger-than-life figure off the field but came alive when in possession.

 

"Ah Valdo, Valdo... Candido de Filho... a classy man," reminisced former PSG and France international David Ginola, according to Ligue1.com.  

 

"Not very extravagant, he never used to talk a lot. He was discreet, but he had a very important role in the dressing room and on the pitch. We knew we could count on him every Saturday.

 

" Valdo won two Coupe de France titles and helped the club reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. Valdo's most memorable night came in the Parc des Princes against Real Madrid in the UEFA Cup. 3-1 down after the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, they would raise their game to another level.

 

The Brazilian's corner found the head of George Weah to open the scoring. David Ginola made it 2-0 with 10 minutes to go and Valdo would provide the finishing touch. After a run by Weah down the right, the fast break came across to the left, Valdo beat his man before firing low into the corner.

 

Wild celebrations were sparked throughout the stadium and they would finish the game with a 4-1 victory and 5-4 aggregate win. To outsiders, he may not have the same profile as some of the other, more recognisable No.

 

10s who have excelled for the club, but without Valdo's majestic performances and love for the club, PSG may not have enjoyed two other Brazilian delights still to come. While Valdo was still at the club, PSG followed that up with the signing of Brazil international Rai from Sao Paulo. One of the most memorable names in the history of the club, he would go to the 1994 World Cup as the captain of his country.

 

Rai would go on to become the club's first Brazilian captain and remains an icon in the city to this day. Playing over 140 games, he scored 51 goals, averaging over one goal every three games. From the No. 10 position, that is a phenomenal return. Under his leadership, PSG won their second league title, two Coupes de France, and two Coupe de la Ligue triumphs. Plus, he was a key member in the 1996 Cup Winners' Cup victory.

 

Rai scored twice against Parma in the quarter-finals to guide the club to a 3-2 aggregate victory. Then, he starred as PSG beat Rapid Wien 1-0 in the final in Brussels. His unique bond with the Parisian support is one that has never been broken, and when the fans were asked to pick their Player of the Century, Rai came top.

 

Huge boots to fill, but again, PSG landed on their feet. The club sent £14 million to Fenerbahce to sign Jay-Jay Okocha, making him the most expensive African player at that time. Success evaded the club during Okocha's spell, but that didn't stop him delighting the PSG fans.

 

His dazzling footwork, ball-juggling and mesmerising skill was enough to keep the fans entertained right from his first kick. The Nigerian made his debut in Bordeaux on August 8, 1998, and despite being 30 yards from goal, his first touch, a stunning strike, found the back of the net. "My goal against Bordeaux was a very special moment," he told PSG's official website.

 

"I wanted to impress my new fans and show them what I was capable of. I came full of ambition and I showed it by scoring that goal." It wasn't until March 2016 that he admitted why he left the French capital. Speaking to Canal Plus (via Goal France) he blamed his departure on the philosophy of coach Luis Fernandez, saying he found him hard to trust. At a Nike event in Paris earlier this year, the Super Eagles legend was asked who was the best player he ever played with. The answer: Ronaldinho

 

That is fitting, because it was the Nigerian who helped mentor the Brazilian's early months in Paris and would then give up the No. 10 jersey to the young pretender when he left for Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer in 2002. Due to his excellence and flourishing reputation, Ronaldinho only played for two seasons in the capital. But he made sure they were memorable.

 

Nothing makes you a PSG hero quicker than scoring against Marseille, and the smiling No. 10 did that three times in his final season. Twice at the Parc des Princes, a lucky free-kick and penalty, but then at the Stade Velodrome he raised his game. Intercepting the ball on the halfway line, he raced towards the OM goal.

 

Defenders struggled to keep with him, and he would be left to dink the ball over Vedran Runje in the home net. It wasn't just his goal, but his entire performance that night, at the home of his team's most hated rivals, inspired the club to a 3-0 victory. Sadly, his departure ushered in a disappointing period at the club.

 

The signings lacked the same imagination, with the No. 10 shirt falling into the hands of Branko Boskovic, Vikash Dhorasoo, Marcelo Gallardo and Stephane Sessegnon. They were all decent players in their own right, but nowhere near the level of talent that the Parc des Princes had become accustomed to.

 

Joining from Monaco in 2010, Brazilian forward Nene took the mantle that Ronaldinho left and rescued the famous No. 10 shirt. Part of the club just before the Qatar Sports Investments era, he would score 35 goals in two seasons before leaving Paris as the new wave of superstars arrived in the capital. It's because of Nene that Ibrahimovic started PSG life as the No. 18.

 

The Brazilian had rejected the Swede's request to vacate the number before the start of the season, but after nine games, Nene left to play in Qatar and Zlatan got his wish. The majestic Swede is the only way to end this tale of wonderful No. 10s at PSG. He arrived a hero and left the Parc des Princes a legend.

 

Zlatan changed the status of the club—from Ligue 1 pretenders, to Champions League contenders. The attitude has changed forever, the expectations have been drastically raised and they will never be the same again. Ibrahimovic did that. Leaving an icon, a leader, and as the club's all-time leading goalscorer, it will be hard for anyone to surpass him as PSG's greatest No. 10 of all time.

 

Javier Pastore, it's over to you.

 

 

 

http://bleacherreport.com/


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Pastore Javier

Pastore Javier
  • Current Team: Paris Saint-Germain
  • D.O.B.: 20/06/1989
  • Nat.: Argentine / Italian
  • Offensive Midfielder

 
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