At 32 years old you could be forgiven for thinking that the career of Rodrigo Palacio was set to wind down – but it seems that some players just get better with age.
The Argentine hitman has proven himself over the last two seasons at Internazionale as one of Serie A’s most dangerous strikers, despite not carrying the same reputation in the game as other Italian-based frontmen.
Despite Inter being under new ownership and expected to go through something of a squad upheaval in the summer, veteran Palacio is set to be handed an improved contract in recognition of his importance at the club.
The Nerazzurri are in a transitional phase under Walter Mazzarri and at the time of writing sit in fifth place on the Serie A table. The chances of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza outfit making-up the required ground to qualify for the Champions League is very slim, but without Palacio this season things would be looking a lot more grim for the club.
The former Boca Juniors forward has scored 12 goals in 27 league outings for the side this season and has every chance of finishing as Serie A’s top scorer if he can go on a good end of season run.
Given that Inter’s next highest goalscorer is defender Yuto Nagatomo, Palacio’s goals have been integral in ensuring that the club has not suffered a mid-table fate similar to that of cross-town rivals AC Milan.
Palacio was the hero in Inter’s last outing, where he scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Torino and the South American has repeatedly popped up with important goals throughout the season.
When looking at the attacking options available to Mazzarri, Diego Milito instantly is a player that catches the eye due to his reputation and standing in the game, while Mauro Icardi is a rising star. However, it has been the often-unheralded Palacio that has got his head down and consistently contributed goals for the team.
The experienced campaigner will finish as Inter’s top scorer for the second of his two seasons at the club and as such despite the arrival of plenty of new faces before next term, Palacio is a key man for the sleeping giants.
At national level Palacio has the enviable task of competing for a place in an Argentina side that could field Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero and Gonzalo Higuaín, with Carlos Tevez in the wilderness.
Since making his debut all the way back in 2005, Palacio has managed 21 caps for the Albiceleste, albeit a lot coming from the bench. However, the Inter man has every chance of making it into Alejandro Sabella’s contingent for this summer’s World Cup and was included in the squad to face Romania earlier this month in an international friendly.
Many questioned Inter’s decision to purchase Palacio in 2012 given the player’s age and relatively modest track record for Genoa after moving to Europe at the age of 27.
However, his continued influential displays for the historic club and presence in the Argentina squad show that Palacio is getting better with age and must be adjudged as a player that does not get the respect he deserves.