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Claudio Pizarro's footballing skills are just as amazing as his hair

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The Peruvian continues to impress in the latter stages of his career.

Oliver Hardt

It's hard not to love Claudio Pizarro. A prolific goalscorer, Bundesliga veteran, and all-round nice guy, the Peruvian's season for Bayern was mainly characterized by short but effective cameos. The Routinier has found regular opportunities hard to come by with Gomez and then Mandzukic leading the line in recent years, while Pep's inclination to field Müller or Götze in the false nine role added further competition for his position.

Goals Assists
11 4

When he did play, Pizarro's time on the pitch was characterized by outstanding efficiency. 11 goals in 19 appearances in domestic competitions is an impressive tally for any striker, and his numbers become even more outstanding when you break these games down into minutes played. This season the forward scored 10 goals in just 691 minutes played in the Bundesliga - at an average of well over a goal per 90 minutes, that strike rate is up there with the very best in Europe.

Touches/90 Pass % Back Zone Pass % Forward Zone Pass %
78.27 82% 95% 79%

There have been times when Pizarro's goalscoring impact has been invaluable, bagging a last-minute winner at home to Stuttgart on the last day of the Bundesliga campaign and scoring a spectacular overhead kick in the 4-1 win at Hamburg. The striker's performances were rewarded with more consistent playing time during the latter stages of the season, when his brace in the draw against Hoffenheim proved that his eye for goal hasn't diminished with age.

Shots/90 KP+Assists/90 Duel % Aerial Duel %
4.58 2.15 43% 37%

As well as being renowned as one of the league's most historically prolific goalscorers, Pizarro showcased some impressive link-up play this season. Pep's possession-based system allowed him to build a strong understanding with his team-mates without having to run himself ragged. His total of two Bundesliga assists was well below the seven he notched the previous season, but his continued vision was showcased by the weighted through-ball for Müller in the DFB Pokal final, as well as the neat back-heel to Xherdan Shaqiri at home to Freiburg.

Even so, there were matches - like the away defeat against Augsburg - in which Pizarro's influence was far from game-changing. His input was certainly less memorable against the sterner competition of the Champions League, where he was often reduced to a hopeful shot at goal as he struggled to find meaningful time on the ball. While many of Pizarro's substitute appearances were dazzling in their immediacy, it's understandable that he was primarily reduced to a bit part in this star-studded Bayern team.

Tackles/90 Int/90 Recoveries/90 Clearances/90
1.51 0.05 3.55 0.32

For obvious reasons, it's difficult to suggest any areas for improvement for the striker. Pizarro is 35, and his skill-set is unlikely to change drastically in the twilight of his career. A one-year contract extension means he'll stay at Bayern at least until 2015, so really it's just a matter of making sure he maintains the fitness to step in when needed. With Lewandowski's transfer finalised and Mandzukic's future uncertain, Pizarro will look to continue the supporting role that he carried out so well this year.

Pizarro's overall lack of playing time makes it difficult to give his season anything above a C; he often delivered when called upon, but few would argue that the striker's overall contribution matched that of more regular starters like Mandzukic or Müller. If his season were judged on attitude and reliability alone, though, he would almost certainly get an A.

Grade 2013-2014: C B (Upgraded from a C to a B per the author's request.)

Editor's Note: Sam shows no mercy. I can see this grade being very unpopular among the people.