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Paletta, Gabriel

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by Dave Usher

Date of Birth - 15/02/86
Nationality - Argentinian
Position - Defender
Games - 8
Goals - 1
Club Hons (Lpool) -
Intnl Hons - Argentina u21 Caps
Other Clubs - Banfield, Boca Juniors

Gabriel became the second Argentine to play for the reds when Rafa Benitez snapped him up for £2m in July 2006. The tough tackling centre back was regarded as one of the finest prospects in Argentine football, and River Plate boss, the legendary Daniel Passarella, had been hoping to persuade Paletta to join his side. Gabriel spurned his advances however, and embarked on his European dream by moving from Banfield to Anfield.

He made his debut for Banfield in 2005, but came to prominence playing for his country in the FIFA World u20 Championships. He played all seven games at the heart of the defence as an Argentinian side inspired by Lionel Messi lifted the trophy.

The following season (2005/06) saw Gabriel play 30 games for Banfield, and he managed to find the net on a couple of occasions. A typical Argentine defender, strong, aggressive and takes no prisoners.

His first game for Liverpool came in a pre-season friendly at Wrexham, and he made an immediately favourable impression with the fans with his combative style and assuredness in possession. He began the season in the reserves, and had to wait until the Carling Cup before he featured for the senior side. His debut came against Reading, and he marked it in some style with a headed goal at the Kop end.

He played against Birmingham in the next round, and made his Champions League bow in the 3-2 defeat at Galatasaray. He'd done ok in those games, but his lack of pace was severely exposed by Arsenal's frontline in the Gunners' 6-3 Carling Cup success at Anfield. He wasn't seen in the first team for a while after that, only appearing again towards the end of the season when Benitez rested a number of players in the Premiership so they could concentrate on the CL semi final and final.

It was becoming clear that the big defender was not suited to English football, and he returned home to Argentina with Boca Juniors in a deal that saw Emiliano Insua come to Anfield.

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