Soccer

PSG's Javier Pastore plays down record fee

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PARIS (AP)

Javier Pastore insists he feels no extra pressure from being Paris Saint-Germain's most expensive signing and that the price tag ''means nothing'' compared to his desire to win titles.

PSG has not given financial details of the deal, but the Argentina midfielder is widely estimated to have cost about ?42 million ($60 million) - surpassing the ?33.5 million ($47.6 million) PSG paid Real Madrid for Nicolas Anelka in 2000.

''The price of the transfer means nothing for me. It's something decided between the clubs,'' Pastore said Monday through a translator. ''I've come in search of titles, I've never won a major trophy.''

Pastore completed his move on a five-year deal from Italian club Palermo last week.

PSG has not won the French title since 1994 and last played in the Champions League seven years ago. The weight of expectation on the 22-year-old Pastore from PSG's long-suffering and impatient fans is going to be huge.

''The price of the transfer is not a form of pressure,'' Pastore said at PSG's Parc des Princes stadium. ''I've been playing since I was 9 (years old) and I've never asked myself questions.''

PSG has wealthy Qatari backers and it also signed three France internationals: striker Kevin Gameiro, winger Jeremy Menez and midfielder Blaise Matuidi - who all made their debuts in Saturday night's 1-0 home defeat to Lorient.

Including Pastore's deal, PSG's total outlay this season is already ?82 million ($116.4 million), and could yet increase with the transfer window still open for another three weeks, particularly if PSG loses again next weekend.

The midfielder recently returned from holiday after playing in last month's Copa America and is not match fit. He may have to wait until September to make his PSG debut.

''I finished the season late with the Copa America and I had 15 days holiday,'' he said. ''This week, I will follow an intensive fitness program, we'll get the first set of results next week to see if I am in the right shape.''

When he is available, PSG coach Antoine Kombouare will have to decide whether to play him as a deep-lying forward behind a main striker - either Gameiro or Guillaume Hoarau - or as a playmaker behind two main strikers.

Pastore hinted that he prefers the option of two strikers, but promises to be flexible.

''I haven't spoken to the coach yet about the best way to use me,'' Pastore said. ''I'm perhaps more used to playing behind two strikes, but it's not an obligation. I can play behind a lone striker and play around him.''

Pastore took little time to adapt when he joined Palermo from Argentine club Huracan two years ago, starting 27 league games in his first season in Serie A. Last season he scored 11 goals, including a hat trick against Catania.

That makes him confident of settling in quickly at PSG.

''I'm not scared, I feel very comfortable with my teammates and with the club,'' Pastore said. ''I discovered Europe when I came from Argentina and I adapted well to everything at Palermo.''

His direct and skillful style of play has already drawn high praise from the likes of Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Argentine great Diego Maradona.

Pastore was also coveted by Chelsea before PSG finally snapped him up. The move to France surprised many observers, given that the Premier League is of a higher standard and more widely watched than France's Ligue 1.

''The French league doesn't have the level of the Spanish or the English leagues, but it's absolutely not a step back,'' Pastore said. ''Ligue 1 is improving in quality, in entertainment, it's strengthening and will soon be able to rival La Liga and the Premier League.''

Prince Sheik Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, whose Qatar Sports Investments owns 70 percent of the club, has used his funds to make PSG an attractive destination. Leonardo left his job as Inter Milan coach to oversee PSG's long-term plan for domestic and European success.

PSG has also signed young Italy goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu - who was Pastore's Palermo teammate the past two seasons.

Big transfers sometimes boil down to small details, and Leonardo's smooth talking made all the difference.

''I spoke with him a lot, what he said was very impressive and so is the project itself. I was convinced,'' Pastore said. ''The ability of the players, the young age of the squad and its ambition; all of that leads me to think I've made the right choice.''



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