Lionel Messi debuted in 2005, and 13 years later, it can be argued that he’s the greatest player of all time. Now we’re in 2018, and there’s a new potential great on the scene, Cristian Pavón.
Here’s why Cristian Pavón is the new Lionel Messi.
It’s not often that Lionel Messi scores a hat-trick and another player gets all the plaudits. But Cristian Pavón’s wizardry dribbling, close control and exceptional ability marked him as a stand-out performer in Argentina’s 4-0 win over Haiti. His substitute cameo was match-defining and spells great things for his World Cup fortunes. Based on their performances in Argentina’s last game, it’s clear that Lionel Messi sees Cristian Pavón as an integral component of his country’s success in Russia. Even Jorge Sampaoli has hailed the qualities of the youngster: “Cristian is a player who has very special characteristics for communicating with Messi.”
Many were taken aback when Cristian Pavón was included in Argentina’s World Cup squad ahead of Mauro Icardi. To put that into perspective, the Inter striker scored 29 goals in 34 league appearances last season, that’s more than Gonzalo Higuain. Regardless, Pavón has been chosen ahead of him not based on output, but quality.
At just 22 years of age, Cristian Pavón is, without doubt, the biggest name in South American domestic football today. Last season, the Boca Juniors winger directly contributed to 18 goals in 32 appearances, averaging 2.5 dribbles per game. In the past two seasons, he’s directly contributed to a goal every 122 minutes, helping Boca Juniors win back to back titles.
The fact of the matter is, even with Lionel Messi as the central focus of the team, Argentina has failed on the international stage, not winning a major tournament in Messi’s tenure. However, the injection of Cristian Pavón into the national team presents a change from recent years. He’s the one that will take the pressure away from Messi and lead them to world cup glory.
Pavón represents a refreshing change from the big names of European football, but rather an exciting youngster playing in the country’s domestic league. With no reputation before him, Pavón plays without fear and without the expectations of Europe’s vicious media. He currently resembles a certain Lionel Messi when he first debuted in the summer of 2005.
In every generation, there’s always a passing of the torch that occurs when the current lead man passes on responsibilities to the next one. The 2018 World Cup will be the transition period that Argentina have always wanted, with Lionel Messi passing over the reins to the next face of Argentinean football, Cristian Pavón.
The 22-year-old’s ability to seamlessly link up with others and create space for them is one of the main reasons why he’ll bring out the best of Lionel Messi in Russia. As if that weren’t enough, Pavón possesses an unrivalled versatility that allows him to play on either of the flanks or just behind the striker. Whether he signs for Real Madrid or Arsenal, Cristian Pavón will establish himself as the best player in the world in the next five years.