Kop Star: Issue 3: Dani Pacheco (Forward)
During the summer of 2007, Rafael BenÃtez pulled off a massive transfer coup, the type of which ArsÃ¨ne Wenger has been gracing Arsenal with for years. They managed to lure prized asset Dani Pacheco away from F.C. Barcelona’s under-18’s side (where he had been playing since age fifteen).
The move, which was comparable to that of Gerard PiquÃ©, Fran MÃ©rida, and most notably Cesc FÃ bregas in that the Catalonian giants were powerless to avoid the loss due to Spanish law, proved too tempting for the man of half Spanish, half Czech heritage.
Understandably, members of the BarÃ§a hierarchy were decidedly disenchanted at young Dani’s decision. His youth coach Garcia Pimienta said of the Melwood bound player: “It is a great loss for the club because he is a forward with a lot of quality, he has been our top goal scorer (scoring 30 goals in the previous season) and has already played for the youth team’.
“He is one of the cadets we had the most hope for, but nothing can be done anymore. Everything happened very suddenly’.
Those of you that had the pleasure of watching the lad during the second half of the season, I am sure will agree Pimienta’s dissatisfaction is justified, and for those who didn’t, take a look at these videos of him in action at BarÃ§a:
In this, next video, keep an eye out for a moment of absolute brilliance on 51 seconds;
F.C. Barcelona were so irked at their loss, it is reported they attempted to claim as much as â‚¬6,000,000 from Liverpool, and the court case surrounding this matter was the reason behind Dani’s absence the majority of the first half of the season. Fortunately, the courts settled on a deal worth â‚¬200,000 allowing the player to play a major role in the second half of the season.
Born: Malaga, Spain
Former clubs: Malaga, Barcelona
Height: 5′ 6
Weight: 10st 3
Having made enough of an impression on Liverpool’s chief Spanish scout Eduardo Macia to sign him up, and the legalities wrapped up, Dani was given his first full start against Bolton reserves on the 4th of February, and he was fired up for it, getting his first league goal and turning in a man of the match performance
Reserve team boss Gary Ablett lead the praise; “Daniel has been very patient waiting for his chance and he did very well. He has got great close control and he can make things happen. He took his goal very well’.
From there Dani’s season went from strength to strength, showing some moments of absolute brilliance, and scoring the vital only goal in the Liverpool senior cup semi-final against a difficult Prescot Cables side, and bagging the all important second in the Lancashire County cup semi-final to wrap the game up against League Two opposition Accrington Stanley.
After being dubbed reserve champions of Northern England, only an exceptionally strong Aston Villa side, packed with first team players, stood in the way of a very young Liverpool reserve side being crowned the greatest second-string in all the land. Dani Pacheco only managed a seventeen-minute cameo appearance from the bench that evening, but wasted no time in showing the watching Anfield crowd glimpses of his massive potential.
Look out for the beautiful through ball to Lucas Leiva on 7:21, and the awareness to get into the goal-scoring position (although he does miss it, I would put that down to concentration, an attribute that comes with expierence) on 8:42:
Since the season has finished, Dani has gone to and won the U17 championships with Spain. Although he did not manage to feature in the elite or final rounds of the tournament due to injury, he bagged a hat trick during qualification to help them to the trophy.
He has also (along with another of our reserve players; Francis DurÃ¡n) received the rare accolade of a jÃ¡bega (a model ship), for services to his hometown MÃ¡laga. The award was presented by Salvador PendÃ³n (president of the local council), who claimed: ‘œit’s is a special privilege to welcome these two young malagueÃ±os who despite their youth serve already as a reference for other young people in this province and to see that their success has surpassed our borders by being part of one of the best football clubs in Europe and the World, and also being part of the Spanish national team on different youth levels, who’ve also given us so much satisfaction’.
During the event Dani discussed his first season at Melwood; ‘œthis season has been a bit hectic since besides my duties at Liverpool I’ve been to numerous meetings with the U-17 Spanish national team but I am very happy after receiving a call from Rafa Benitez to begin the pre-season with the first team.’
One thing that never fails to amaze me about the top young Spanish prospects is how ahead of their years they are in both technical and mental ability. This was well displayed at the previous U17 championship, where players such as Thiago AlcÃ¡ntara and Keko GontÃ¡n played other teams off the park with these attributes alone. Dani is no different, it is abundantly clear he has had top quality coaching from a very young age.
The intelligence in his off the ball movement is key to the way he plays his game, as he does not mind covering a lot of ground in the final third to get involved. It is this natural inclination / work rate, along with his awareness of other players in the game that makes him so effective in the withdrawn (No. 10) strikers role. Nonetheless, it is that intelligence of movement that also enables him to find space for goal scoring opportunities in the box (ala your typical No. 9); this ability to freely score from the No. 10 position is the cause of the comparisons to the great RomÃ¡rio.
Dani gained his nickname ‘˜the killer’ from his deadly finishing in front of goal, and this is just one attribute that contributes to him being a very well rounded player with the ball at his feet. He has a great first touch and subsequent close control, this aids his dribbling, which is a constant threat to opposition defences. Most players with these attributes at a young age are one track minded, Dani however is a good team player, and to emphasise this he possesses a good range of passing, especially his weighted through-balls.
At five-foot-six, and weighing in at a slight ten stone and three pounds, it is clear the staff at Melwood must improve his physicality to ensure he can deal with centre backs in the English game. Even still, aside from this he is a physically impressive player too, a fit lad with a good turn of pace.
Of course, no issue of KopStar would be complete without resident youth football expert Shervin depicting the player for us:
Shervin wrote: Some players are just born for the beautiful game, and I think Daniel is one of these. There is just some spark about this boy that you don’t see in other players. It’s not an easy to put such a feeling into words but he clearly has got something, the type of player you would pay to watch. You often get commentators throwing stuff like “dribbling past defenders as if they weren’t there etc..” every now and then, too much for my liking, but it could not be truer in Pacheco’s case. He just seems to dance past defenders’ challenges, no need for step-overs, roulettes or other fancy tricks, just a drop of the shoulder followed by a terrific burst of pace. There’s only one way to cope with Pacheco and that is to force him to play back to goal, once he gets goal side and starts to run at the defender you know the latter is in serious trouble. However, for all the dribbling wizard he is, that doesn’t limit him to just an amazing individual talent. He certainly can pick out a pass as well, as showed by his delightful through-ball to Lucas in the reserves league final.
However, there’s only one thing really who can prevent him from making it to the highest level, and I think most will agree on that, which is height or lack of. It would not really be a concern if he had the compact physique of Maradona or Tevez, but he’s still very much a skinny lad. But, at only 17, because yes, even though he’s already training with our big boys, he’s still only a teen, he will hopefully manage a few more inches. Also, despite being nicknamed “the killer” at his former club, he’s yet to really find his shooting boots for us but I guess that will come with a bit more confidence and a little more power to his shots.
But, all in all, I don’t think there is anyone in our youth teams that comes close to Pacheco in terms of pure technical and dribbling ability. I would go as far as saying, but that’s my personal opinion, he is the most exciting prospect we have at the club.
|Previous Kop Stars:
Issue 1: Lauri Dalla Valle
Issue 2: Krisztian Nemeth
What do you think; the best prospect at the club? Only time will tell if Dani Pacheco will be a future KopStar, he is still very young, and many years away from being the finished article. Although, with Rafa Benitez asking him to begin pre-season with the first team, will we see young lad from the Costa del Sol shine a light on the Kop sooner rater than later?