Thursday, 25 November 2010

Why the future is bright for Liverpool's young stars- Part Three: Daniel Pacheco

After a seemingly never-ending barren spell where Liverpool’s young stars have failed to make any sort of an impact on the first team the Reds finally have a crop of young players who appear destined to challenge for a place in the first team in the not-so distant future. In this five part series I examine the youngsters who are on the fringes of the starting eleven and consider their possible futures at the club.

In part three I consider the future of Daniel Pacheco.

For far too long now Liverpool have been crying out for a creative and attacking midfielder to complement Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres. Our midfield has clearly lacked a player with the invention and incision to unlock tightly packed defences. If he fulfils his potential then Daniel Pacheco could be precisely the player we have been crying out for.

The promise and potential possessed by the Spanish sensation is unquestionable. Signed from Barcelona, where he earned the nickname El Asesino ("The Assassin") thanks to his lethal finishing skills, Pacheco has gone on to prove his ability since his arrival in 2007, with many encouraging cameos for the first team adding to his prominent status in the reserve side.

After helping the reserve side to become both the Premier Reserve League’s Northern and National Champions in 2007/2008 Pacheco progressed further and made his first team debut as a substitute in the dead-rubber Champions League match at home to Fiorentina last season.

His League debut came soon after and he shone during his brief spell on the pitch as a substitute against Wolves, however he made his biggest impression on the first team during our inaugural Europa League game against Unirea Urziceni.

With 15 minutes remaining Liverpool were stuttering and stumbling to what would have been an embarrassing stalemate at home to a little known Romanian side most supporters expected us to comfortably defeat. Pacheco was sent on to invigorate and inspire our faltering midfield, and that’s exactly what he did.

His invention and creative spark provided a glimmer of hope from an otherwise dull and disappointing match and, crucially, he was involved at the heart of the move that sealed the Reds’ one goal victory. Pacheco showed composure and calmness to cleverly head fellow substitute Ryan Babel’s left wing cross into space for David Ngog to head home from close range.

Pacheco played a significant role in constructing Ngog’s vital goal that put us in good stead for the return leg and, more importantly, spared us the inevitable derision that would have resulted had we failed to beat an opponent with little to no European pedigree.

Despite his noteworthy impact and growing support amongst fans Pacheco struggled to force his way into the first team picture for the rest of the season. Nevertheless he was regularly placed on the bench, an indication of both Rafa’s desperate desire to get results immediately with tried and trusted players, and to keep the promising young stars in the picture.

Following a quietly impressive campaign for Liverpool Pacheco went on to excel at the 2010 UEFA European Under-19 Championship, where he claimed the tournament’s golden boot after scoring four goals whilst helping Spain to a second placed finish.

Pacheco proved to be one of the most influential players in the Spain squad as he scored two crucial goals against bitter rivals Portugal, as well as netting past Italy and England in subsequent matches to send the confident Spanish into a final they were expected to win against France.

Unfortunately for the Iberians they suffered a 2-1 reverse in the final, however Pacheco could remain pleased with his contribution as he provided an assist for his country’s goal to fittingly finalise his fantastic form throughout the competition.

Rumours persisted linking Pacheco with a return to his homeland of Spain during the summer as clubs began to take notice of the 19-year old’s eye-catching displays and attractive attacking ability. Thankfully for Liverpool the in-demand youngster decided to remain on Merseyside amid the anticipation of more first team opportunities.

This belief appeared reasonable when he was awarded the number 12 shirt in place of his previously obscure number 47 shirt. Pacheco then played for the whole 90 minutes against Rabotnicki at Anfield and he was part of a Liverpool side that passed the ball fluently and displayed real potential in their first competitive match of the season.

Disappointingly both Liverpool and Pacheco’s fortunes have greatly deteriorated since then, with Roy’s Reds failing to pick up points or perform well while Pacheco has been abruptly sidelined.

He has started against Trabzonspor and Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League, however the Spaniard’s only taste of Premier League football arrived when he came on as a substitute in the dying moments of the humiliating defeat to City. Apart from that Pacheco has scarcely managed to even gain a seat on the bench, leaving many puzzled fans inevitably angry with Roy Hodgson.

As a result of his isolation from the first team picture and speculation linking him with a move away from Anfield, I had to think twice before deciding to write about Daniel Pacheco.

The 19-year old Spaniard appeared to be rising through the ranks at Anfield as he began to feature on the fringes of the first team during Rafael Benitez’s last season at the club. Fans awoke to his talent and potential, with some even suggesting that he had the ability to claim a more regular place amongst the attacking triumvirate normally deployed behind the lone striker Fernando Torres.

Hopes for Pacheco’s future were raised further following the appointment of Roy Hodgson. Unfortunately, although many believed Hodgson would afford promising young players more chances in the first team than his predecessor, Pacheco seems to have fallen out of favour with the new manager, causing rumours to re-emerge suggesting that he wants a move away from Liverpool.

The former Barcelona youth player certainly seems to have a bright future, but will that potential be fulfilled at Liverpool or elsewhere?


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