[dropcap]S[/dropcap]icilian side Palermo have developed the likes of Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore into household global names in the recent past, while the current crop at the Stadio Renzo Barbera includes more budding South American superstars.
Paulo Dybala has rightly been claiming mass plaudits for his coming-of-age over the last year, with the diminutive Argentine forward lighting up Serie A with his goals and shows of skill.
Despite the former Instituto forward being the focus of many of the headlines and reportedly catching the eye of Premier League heavyweights such as Manchester United and Arsenal, Dybala is not the only standout South American in Giuseppe Iachini’s contingent.
The hype surrounding Dybala perhaps would not be as significant without his attacking partner and compatriot Franco Vázquez.
This gifted Argentine attacking midfielder has played in the number ten role behind his countryman for the last year – coincidently this has been the period where Dybala has put his slow start to life in European football behind him to blossom into the superstar he is today.
Vázquez was initially brought to Italy following the departure of Pastore to Paris Saint-Germain in 2011, with the 25-year-old signing for the Rosanero after four years in the Belgrano first-team.
Initially the playmaker suffered the same fate as Dybala upon arriving in Sicily, as getting to grips with European football was not an automatic occurrence.
After struggling to make an impact, Vázquez was farmed out to Rayo Vallecano for the 2012-13 season, but was either played out of position or not at all during his underwhelming stint in La Liga.
Upon returning to Palermo for the start of last season, head coach Gennaro Gattuso ostracised the Argentinian and it was only when the former AC Milan midfielder was replaced by Iachini that Vázquez got his chance to play regularly.
The gifted attacker took the opportunity with both hands, immediately forming a seemingly telepathic understanding with Dybala that saw Palermo win Serie B and be elevated back to Italian football’s peak.
The pair have continued to rip apart opposition defences this term in the top flight, but it has invariably been poster-boy Dybala who has reaped the plaudits and acclaim for the Rosanero’s lofty league position.
However, upon closer inspection, Vázquez may well be the real hero of the piece as his artistry in behind ‘the new Sergio Agüero’ has had the collective Palermo attack ticking.
Of the Sicilian outfit’s 23 league games this season Vázquez has started 22 of them, scoring seven goals and creating nine assists – the most of any player in Serie A.
Although Dybala may well be Iachini’s men’s top scorer on 11 strikes this term, four of those have seen Vázquez lay the goal on for the superstar, with the selfless attacker a driving force behind his strike partner’s blistering form.
Dybala looks set for a summer move to one of Europe’s biggest clubs, with Rosanero president Maurizio Zamparini admitting that the South American’s head has been turned.
However, he will have to cope without his partner in crime in a new environment.
Vázquez has recently penned a new deal with Palermo to keep him in South Italy until 2019 and will be charged with continuing the club’s top Serie A form next season if and when his strike partner departs.
Although Palermo will be hugely weakened if Dybala does leave, it arguably will give Vázquez the opportunity to step into the limelight, become the club’s main man and get the recognition that has not always been forthcoming this term.
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