Arsenal have been linked with Mauro Zarate, here's everything supporters need to know about the moody Argentine...
At the tail-end of last season, Lazio were valuing Mauro Zarate at around 25 million euros but by the start of the current campaign the Romans were content to send the Argentine on loan to Inter – with a price tag dropping to under the 15m mark.
The striker had fallen out with just about everyone at the club and coach Edy Reja had exiled him to train with the youth side rather than have to put up with his prima donna antics such as turning up to training late, refusing to accept a place on the substitutes’ bench and failing to follow team orders when he was picked.
Despite possessing dribbling skills to match fellow countryman and Napoli ace Ezequiel Lavezzi to whom he has often been compared, the arrival in Rome of two experienced forwards in Miroslav Klose and Djibril Cisse sealed the 24-year-old’s fate.
However, the negative press surrounding the player seemed to ward off any suitors apart from Inter who were unwilling to commit to a permanent deal until they could judge the player’s mindset.
Reduced to a bit part player under current Inter boss Claudio Ranieri, Zarate is learning that the life of the maverick is not only hard and lonely one. Although it is not as if moody Mauro came from the wrong side of the tracks with little or no experience of the demands of professional football.
His family have been in the trade all their lives, his brother and agent Sergio enjoyed a half-decent career in Germany and a year in Italy. Coming from such a background, it's possible he feels too entitled to the limelight. It seemed for a while that he would be on the fast-track to super-stardom after starring for Argentina at the Under-20s World Cup in 2007 alongside his team-mate Sergio Argueo, with the pair both scoring in the final.
Hinting at where his priorities lay, or perhaps his brothers priorities, rather than nurture his talents at his then current club Vèlez Sàrsfield or in Europe, he followed lucrative switch to Al Sadd in Qatar. Ensuring that the Zarate clan were pretty well set-up financially.
After the glamour of Qatar, a loan switch to Birmingham City in 2008 did not seem like a shrewd career move. However a couple of stand-out performances, notably against Manchester City, caught Lazio’s attention. It seemed as if they had struck solid gold when he netted seven goals in the first half of the 2009-10.
Things took a turn for the worse, however, when he stopped passing the ball to team-mates in better-placed positions in front of goal.
After the club from the Italian Capital reportedly stumped up 20m euros so that Zarate could buy out his contract in Doha it seemed that a bright future was all but assured.
However, the rifts in the relationship – first with Delio Rossi and then Reja – the coach’s needs for the team were very much at odds how Zarate saw his role. Any argument would come down to the player’s demand for a free rein, to roam to whatever area of the pitch took his fancy.
Usually that meant being as far away from the bench as possible but as long as the goals kept coming such petulance was tolerated. Things took a turn for the worse, however, when he stopped passing the ball to team-mates in better-placed positions in front of goal.
As one run after another ended up in a dead-end, the more times his number was called in. Eventually it became easier for everyone if he was left out of the starting line-up all together.
However, there is no doubt that there is talent to burn in those wayward feet and rather than have them clicking on the sidelines, a coach such as Arsene Wenger could tap into playing the pacy frontman in a position out on the left where he can cut inside and play quick one-twos on the edge of the area.
The goals may not come as easily as they have in the past but maybe a less heavy-handed approach from the touchline could yet turn the off-the-cuff South American into a telling contributor for the team – and that is what the Gunners need at the moment.
Here's Zarate's Best Bits from 2010-11
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