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Ryan Ross On November - 24 - 2011

Serie A Player Focus: Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi

The Argentine began his youth career at Rosario Central, whom he joined before moving to Estudiantes in 2003. Playing for Estudiantes’s youth side, he scored a remarkable 17 goals in 39 games.

His big move came in 2004 when Genoa signed him for €1million. The Italian side immediately loaned him to San Lorenzo in Argentina again, where he played 29 top flight games, netting eight goals. The highlight of his season was scoring against River Plate in a crucial San Lorenzo win, which derailed River’s title challenge.

The following summer, Genoa were rocked by a match-fixing scandal; which saw them relegated to Serie C1. San Lorenzo subsequently signed Lavezzi for €1.2 million.

Lavezzi stayed at San Lorenzo between 2005 and 2007, playing 55 games, scoring 16 goals. Initially the team were competing for a mid-table place, but in his final season, Lavezzi helped them win the League Championship; collecting his first winner’s medal in the process.

In July 2007, Lavezzi moved to Italian side, Napoli. The Neapolitans had just achieved promotion back to Serie A, having recovered from dire financial troubles. Lavezzi was to be their biggest signing that summer, a fee of €6million was agreed with San Lorenzo.

The Argentinean’s first goals came in the form of a hat-trick, in a 3-1 Coppa Italia victory over Pisa. The Italian media were quick to heap praise upon the diminutive forward, and stated. “a Neapolitan star is born.” His first season ended with 8 goals in 35 appearances; and the local fans worshipping him.

As Napoli’s status as a Serie A regular improved, so did Lavezzi’s influence. In his second season, he netted seven goals in 30 appearances. Despite not being a prolific scorer, the assists and space he created for team-mates ensured his name was first on the team-sheet.

2009-2010 wasn’t a great season for Lavezzi. He netted a similar 8 goals in 30 appearances, but injuries blighted him, and he was unable to have a real influence.

The summer of 2010, saw Lavezzi resign his famous number 7 shirt to new signing, Edinson Cavani. From now on, Lavezzi would wear number 22.

Napoli were now seen as serious competitors in Serie A and had secured European competition for the 2010-11 season. They would go on to finish third in the League and impress in the Europa Ligue.

Lavezzi had a new-found freedom upfront. He was able to exploit gaps in opposition defences, created by Cavani, and his assist ratio soared to 12 in the league. He also netted two goals in the Europa Ligue, the best of which came against Liverpool at Anfield during the group stage.

Perhaps Lavezzi’s most remarkable goal to date, came against AC Milan. He chipped the ball over Abbiati, despite being on the ground himself. It was the perfect goal to define the Argentinean; cheeky, classy and irresistible. One of the highlights from that season.

Recently, Lavezzi has become a regular choice amongst Alejandro Sabella’s Argentine squads. His most recent feat, was to come off the bench and net the equalising goal against Bolivia with barely his first touch of the ball. Argentina went on to win the game 2-1.

It has been a remarkable career for el Pocho thus far. Success with his club side is not far away and he will only improve on the International stage. Not bad for a man who nearly quit football to become a mechanic.

Ryan Ross

I became enthralled with Calcio back in the 90’s, when James Richardson presented Football Italia. My early mornings were spent following the trials and tribulations of Internazionale, during a period where they always flattered to deceive. It took a Frenchman to get me hooked though; Youri Djorkaeff, my favourite player of all time. This guy was key to Inter’s midfield, never mind his role in France’s World Cup win in 1998! I have a keen interest in Calcio’s rich history.

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