Abel Hernández 22 Striker/Midfielder Palermo
When Abel Hernández scores a goal, he makes sure the football gods know about it. His dainty footwork on the celebratory dance floor highlights the passion of a player who works hard and enjoys the little successes. But there remains a significant question over the ability of his feet when engaged with a football and the decision making that goes with it.
Hernández, who required a minor heart operation earlier in his career, moved to Europe and joined the Sicilian side Palermo in 2009. He's negotiated some injury concerns and retains his most dangerous weaponry, namely the speed, strength and work ethic that sets him aside from other players of his type. In 'global great' terms, Hernández is essentially quite limited when it comes to technique but makes up for it with short distance acceleration and outright speed. Whether he has that extra little something is questionable.
That has been borne out in the early knockings of the Rosanero's 2012/13 Serie A season. An appalling start under new coach Giuseppe Sannino gave notoriously trigger-happy club chairman Maurizio Zamparini the opportunity to give him his marching orders after just three league games, replacing him with Gian Piero Gasperini.
The former Genoa boss initially didn't have much more joy, and Palermo scored just one goal in their first five matches of the campaign, a drought that brought their weakness up front into sharp relief. Fabrizio Miccoli, a supremely talented forward with more than a few special tricks in his locker, is now 33 years of age. Likewise Franco Brienza, a middle-of-the-road striker who makes a limited impact on his team's fortunes overall.
The responsibility therefore falls in large part to Hernández; the club expects him to deliver but he is not the ruthless finisher they need and, with a leaky defence, Hernández missing the early portion of the season with a knee ligament injury provides a daunting summary of Palermo's predicament. Should his injury problems of last year return the young forwards in the squad will really need to step up.
Hernández is, as we noted last year, a very modern player. His pace is his greatest virtue, and the strength to which it is married makes him a terrifying handful when he's in full flow. But, just like 12 months ago, there can be no denying that he doesn't score enough goals either for his own progress or for a Palermo side so desperate for a contribution. He does score some lovely goals, some goals that make it look as if he's found his touch and will be finding the bottom corners blindfold in no time. Unfortunately for Gasperini and the player himself, it's just not his forte.
After an eye-catching debut for an extremely talented Uruguay team in 2010, Hernández's international career hasn't taken off as expected. He has won just a handful of senior caps in the intervening period, hardly surprising given the competition. Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Diego Forlan head up the attacking options available to Oscar Tabarez and Hernández must find the net more frequently in a pink shirt in order to make a more telling impact in a sky blue one.
“Needs continuity soon in order to deliver on the potential that drew admiring glances from Liverpool and Roma this summer." - Adam Digby (ESPN, Sports Illustrated)
D Vital for player and club that goals arrive