New manager Ljubinko Drulović will attempt to convince Goran Pandev, Macedonia’s all-time leading scorer, to return to the national team.
The situation involving Goran Pandev bears watching over the next couple of weeks. Could we see Pandev return to the national team? Given his club situation and the lack of playing time, that is a serious possibility that should not be ignored. Quite frankly, Pandev needs the national team right now. That wasn’t the case back in October of 2013 when he decided to prematurely retire from the Macedonian squad. At that time, Goran was a key contributor to Napoli, but his career has gone downhill after his move to Turkish giants Galatasaray.
One positive for new manager Ljubinko Drulović is that he shares a mutual friend with Goran Pandev, a guy nicknamed the “Special One.” That of course would be none other than José Mourinho, the manager of Chelsea. Drulović is friends with Mourinho from his days in Portugal, while Pandev formerly played under Mourinho at Inter. Pandev and Mourinho still keep in touch as both of those guys are fond of each other. After all, Pandev played a big part in Inter winning the Champions League trophy in 2010.
Another mutual friend between Drulović and Pandev is former Serbian international Dejan Stanković. Drulović knows Stanković well, while Dejan and Goran are very good friends.
So, you can bet that Drulović will better connect with Pandev than former coach Boshko Gjurovski. Boshko was stubborn, as was Goran to be fair, and neither guy made much effort to make amends. Instead, Gjurovski just moved on after Pandev would not answer his calls early in his tenure, saying he will not beg any player to play for the national team.
As we mentioned before, things have changed between October of 2013 and now (May of 2015). Pandev is an afterthought at his club team who badly needs game action to build up his match fitness. Goran has been rumored to be joining Genoa this summer, but that doesn’t exclude the fact that he could benefit from playing in additional games.
Let’s not forget that as good as Pandev has been for the national team, the national team has also been good for Pandev. In his darkest days as a professional, which was the contract dispute with Lazio, Macedonia kept calling up Goran for him to maintain some form of match fitness. That can’t be forgotten on his side. It’s time to bury the hatchet and move forward.
Pandev will soon turn 32 years old, and his present form can’t be the best given his limited playing time with Galatasaray. However, even an out-of-form Pandev is better than the current options in center-forward. That’s where Pandev would play now given his age and stamina issues. The “trequartista” position was his best fit during his prime years, but that is no longer the case as he is nearing the end of his career.
Goran would be a short-term fix (maybe 1-2 more years), but that would be enough until Macedonia produces better quality options at center-forward. You would hope that some younger player/(s) will rise up and take that mantle from Pandev.
What do you guys think? Would you welcome back Pandev, or is a short-term fix not the best solution? Let us know how you think this will play out in the event that Pandev does end his retirement from the national team.