Argentina: Rising stars

As part of a new series looking at the state of play in Argentinian football, guest contributor Tonino Lucci highlights some of the rising stars plying their trade in the Argentinian league that could soon make their way to Europe.

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The Argentine Championship is now over, but it is worth looking back to consider some of the young talents who graced the top flight this season.

Althoughe we could not enjoy watching the likes of Ruben Botta from Tigre, or Ricardo Centurion from Racing for much of the season due to injuries, we have been able to see great young talents emerge like Luciano Vietto, Manuel Lanzini, Leandro Paredes and Duvan Zapata, who each could be braced for a move to Europe in the near future.

Below, I take a closer look at each of these prospects.

Luciano Vietto

Born in Balnearia in Argentina’s province of Córdoba in 1993, Vietto currently plays for Racing Club de Avellaneda as a forward, and has been referred to by his agent as the most promising youngster in Argentina.

He made his debut in the first division as a 17 year old in October 2011 against Lanus – a game Racing drew 1-1. To date he has played 34 games in the top flight with 13 goals, 4 assists and 2 hat-tricks.

A highlight of his career to date came in 2012, when he represented Argentina at under-20 level. He was among the few who played well during qualification, scoring two goals and subsequently avoiding much of the criticism that followed Argentina’s failure to qualify for the under-20 World Cup.

As the clip below shows clearly, Vietto is a skillful forward who knows what to do with the ball at his feet and also has a sharp eye for goal.

Last summer, Racing rejected a bid from Spanish giants Real Madrid for Vietto. But tellingly, the forward has just returned from Europe with an Italian passport, opening the door to a move in the near future. With this in mind, he will surely be playing in a major European league before long, with Liverpool believed to be the latest club interested.

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Manuel Lanzini (nicknamed ‘la joya’, ‘the jewel’)

Raised in Ituzaingó, Buenos Aires, Lanzini played for a number of local clubs until 2002 when he made it to River’s youth team. He plays as playmaker or attacking midfielder.

His debut with River was on 8th August 2010 during a 1-0 win against Tigre. Almost a year later (in July 2011) he was loaned out to Brazil’s Fluminense for £260,000, including an option to buy him for about £13 million. In 2012, he returned from Brazil as, despite some good performances (leading some to compare him to Neymar), the clubs could not agree on a final price for his transfer.

For Fluminense he played 28 games and scored 5 goals, while with River he has netted 8 goals in 48 games. Already armed with experience of playing abroad, Lanzini is another player that could soon leave the Argentine league for good, with AS Roma rumoured to be interested.

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Leandro Paredes

Born in San Justo, Buenos Aires, Paredes made it to Boca Juniors’ youth team when he was just eight years old.

He currently operates as a playmaker for Boca. His career highlights include playing in the South American Championship with the Argentine Under-15 side which took place in Bolivia in 2009, and having a key role inthe Argentine Under-17 team in the 2011 South American Championship, where Argentina achieved third place.

His first match with Boca in the first division came in 2010 against Argentino Juniors – a 2-0 loss. He has played 22 games with Boca, scoring 4 goals. Paredes is a special case; an extraordinary player, gifted with a great ability, but currently lacking in the kind of consistency he needs to persuade the biggest teams in Europe to invest in signing him.

One factor that could be holding him back is that Juan Roman Riquelme, Boca’s idol, plays in his position. For Paredes to realise his potential and become a star we might have to wait until Riquelme’s retirement. Or, alternatively, another club could offer Paredes a way out, either back to Brazil or to Europe. Despite his inconsistency, both Juventus and Milan have been linked to the youngster in the past. Time will tell.

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Duvan Zapata

Born in Cali, Colombia in 1991, Zapata started as a forward with Colombia’s America de Cali in 2008, although his first goals came with a hat trick in 2011 against Deportivo Pereira (his lack of goals to this point can be explained by the regulation in Colombia whereby clubs must use an under 18 player for at least 5 minutes per game. Zapata was America de Cali’s chosen player, but he managed very little game time).

In 2011, he played 3 games with the Colombian Under-20 team at the World Cup, scoring 1 goal.

That same year he was transferred to Argentina’s Estudiantes de La Plata, where he has since played 43 matches and converted 19 goals.

In 2011 he was also crowned Champion in the Esperanzas de Toulon Tournament with the Colombian national team, scoring the goal that earned Colombia a draw, and in the end a win on penalties. There was very recently an agreement between Estudiantes de La Plata and West Ham to transfer Zapata to the Premier League for £6 million, but due to complications regarding his work permit, it appears the move has fallen through.

Nevertheless, given his goal record and powerful physique, he remains one to watch for a move to a major European League.

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Of course, these are not the only rising stars of Argentine football. That list would also include Lucas Mugni from Colon, Sanchez Miño from Boca, and Alan Ruiz from San Lorenzo among many others.

Indeed it seems there is no limit to the number of promising young players Argentina can produce. The big challenge for the nation’s domestic game is to retain this talent for longer – but that’s a topic for another day.

Trackbacks

  1. […] articles on the web! Focussing on players, transfers, clubs, managers and even a look at the goings-on in the Argentinian league with our South American blogger Toni Lucci, we provide unique angles and […]

  2. […] articles on the web! Focussing on players, transfers, clubs, managers and even a look at the goings-on in the Argentinian league with our South American blogger Toni Lucci, we provide unique angles and […]

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