Franco Vazquez is not necessarily a household name in the soccer world. After all, the 26-year-old midfielder was previously buried in Palermo’s depth chart my ex-manager Gennaro Gattuso during last season’s Serie B campaign. In fact, Vazquez was not even on the squad list for the first half of the 2013-14 season for the Rosanero.
Additionally, Vazquez has never received a call-up by the Argentina national team. Nevertheless, the Argentine was brought in by Palermo in 2011 as a long-term replacement of outgoing star Javier Pastore. While succeeding his fellow countryman was not an easy task, Vazquez is finally proving that he has the abilities and talent to take over the reigns.
Vazquez’s recent outstanding play could soon earn him his first senior national call-up, not with his birth country of Argentina, but with the country that he currently plies his trade in (due to his Italian-born mother).
Speaking on the possibility of playing for the Italian national team, Vazquez recently told La Gazzeta dello Sport, “My mum would be delighted. But she always told me to do what I felt was best for me. She didn’t have to do any convincing. I’ve always said that I feel half Italian. My mum is from Padua and I’ve got lots of relatives there. It would be an honor.”
The Palermo star also had high praise for the Italian national manager, Antonio Conte. Vazquez stated, ”For me, he’s one of the best coaches in the world. You don’t win three scudettos in a row by fluke. He emits such a motivational air, just like our club coach (Giuseppe Iachini). If Conte asked, I would even play in midfield — I’ve done it at Palermo so of course I’d do it for the national team.”
While receiving your first national call-up at 26 is a bit unusual, Vazquez is in the midst of having an outstanding season with the Serie A side. The midfielder currently leads the entire Italian league in assists (9) and dribbles per game (3.5). As a matter of fact, many of Vazquez’s statistics match up against some of the most highly-rated players in Serie A.
|Vazquez||M. Hamsik||M. Pjanic||J. Callejon||A. Vidal|
|Succ. Take On%||53%||39%||53%||31%||33%|
Although future superstar Paulo Dybala receives much of the praise for lifting last year’s Serie B champions to a fairly formidable side in the first division (and he has been fantastic), Vazquez is equally responsible for Palermo’s rise up the Serie A table.
With Dybala’s future at Palermo in doubt, as many clubs are currently interested in signing the 21-year-old forward, the Sicilian side recently awarded Vazquez a contract extension to keep the midfielder in the capital city until 2019.
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