- Dario Lezcano scored twice and set-up a further four goals in 17 appearances for Ingolstadt.
- The Paraguayan has scored four goals in five games for his national team.
- He is the only Bundesliga representative in Paraguay's squad for Copa America.
When the striker was introduced to the Ingolstadt fans back in January, he was viewed as a potential saviour. Lezcano arrived from the Swiss Raiffeisen Super League with a reputation as a prolific finisher with goalscoring pedigree at international level with Paraguay, offering hope that die Schanzer could start finding the target regularly too, having done so just 11 times in 17 games by that point.
'We'll have a lot of fun with Dario'
It came as no surprise then that the sense of anticipation was palpable in Ingolstadt given the player’s track record. "His composure in front of goal sets him apart in much the same way his will to win does," said sporting director Thomas Linke. "We’re convinced that we’ll have a lot of fun with Dario in the current campaign."
Those words rang true come the end of the season. The 25-year-old had a hand in six goals in 17 appearances, a reasonable return in a side where the front three were seen as the first line of defence and where just Moritz Hartmann, Lukas Hinterseer and Mathew Leckie scored more than twice all season.
When it comes to the national team, Lezcano falls firmly into the ‘late bloomer’ category: his first call-up came in October 2015, just a few weeks before signing for Ingolstadt. Fast forward seven months and he is now gearing up for the Copa America Centenario with Los Guaranies on the back of scoring four times in five appearances for his country. It is a tally that is difficult for head coach Ramon Diaz to ignore, despite the forward vying for a place against the likes of Roque Santa Cruz, Derlis Gonzalez, Lucas Barrios, Edgar Benitez or even FC Augsburg’s Raul Bobadilla, who did not make the final cut.
At Copa America, which runs from June 3-26, Paraguay will face off with Costa Rica, Colombia and host nation USA in the group stages. While the competition will coincide with UEFA EURO 2016, there will certainly be some interested parties keeping track of Lezcano’s progress back in Switzerland, where he is still highly regarded having moved there from the Paraguayan capital Asuncion at the tender age of 17.
Up and downs in Switzerland
Following three years on the books at FC Will, Lezcano moved into the Swiss top-tier with FC Thun in 2011. A year later he moved to FC Luzern, where he rose to prominence under the guidance of head coach and former FC Bayern München stalwart Markus Babbel, scoring 41 goals in 117 games. However, his career did not always go according to plan. When he first burst onto the scene, Lezcano suffered injuries at regular intervals and his fondness for sugary drinks did not lend itself to the diet of a professional footballer. Since then, however, mineral water has become the burly forward’s beverage of choice.
Furthermore, he grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons in September 2015 when he received an eight-game ban for assaulting referee Fedayi San in a game against Grasshoppers Club Zürich. It was an emotional reaction to being booked that he has long since apologised for and, thankfully for Ingolstadt, has shown no sign of repeating itself. With a contract lasting until 2020, for now die Schanzer are simply hoping his star continues to rise at the Copa America.