It would be easy to dismiss the light-weight winger as a role player for Argentina in Russia.
A long road to the top, praise from the GOAT and a bit of transfer speculation may quickly change your mind, however. Cristian Pavon has always been highly regarded, but seems to now be firing on all cylinders.
The Cordoba-native started in the lower leagues, making his first-team debut at 16 and eventually reaching the second-tier at 18 with Nacional B. His difficult route is not an unfamiliar one, and seems to have contributed to the strong-willed character he possesses today.
He was labelled by the Argentine media as ‘having a bucket on his head’ after some spotted his inability to pick his head up for a pass, and his tendency to lose possession on needless dribbles.
It felt like a baptism of criticism for Pavon, who had to ignore the doubters and keep climbing the ladder to prove himself among an array of Argentinian superstars.
Pavon has always been on a quest for validation, and finally seemed to have achieved it after notching 10 assists in his breakthrough 16-17 season, as he helped lead his club to the Primera Division success. This season, he improved further, laying on 17 assists as well as notching 10 goals for himself. This new found end product has the makings of a fluid playmaker that fits the modern game.
Comparisons to Angel Di Maria and Alexis Sanchez are not far-fetched, as he contributes in all phases of offensive play. He can play on either flank or drift in between. His intelligence, relentless dribbling and crafty runs will allow him to flourish with Messi and co in Russia.
His fluid final-third play made him an obvious link to Arsenal amidst the Sanchez furore. With a release clause of $37m, a big money move seems inevitable for the prodigal winger.
He is the biggest talent to come out of Cordoba since Paulo Dybala, his team mate in Russia this summer. It takes a special player to keep out Mauro Icardi, Erik Lamela and Lautaro Martinez, and Pavon is precisely that.
Messi said: “He’s very quick and is different to what we have in the squad. He’s not only really quick, but his decision-making is also excellent.”
Such high praise that even Barcelona seem interested in taking on Pavon as a developmental project.
Pavon’s stoic nature seems to have him in good stead, as the World Cup could spell propulsion to stardom for the next Argentinian superstar.