Sergio Batista named the 15 under-23 players to represent Argentina at the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday, but what with putting up three other stories last night, I thought I’d leave it until now to publish the list. One of those players, River Plate forward Marco Rubén, has now become Villarreal forward Marco Rubén, in what (in my opinion) is a very good piece of business for the Núñez club.
The names first. These, of course, include the three over-23 players allowed under Olympic Football Tournament rules, whose names are in bold.
Oscar Ustari (Getafe, Spain)
Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands)
Federico Fazio (Sevilla, Spain)
Ezequiel Garay (Racing de Santander, Spain)
Pablo Zabaleta (Espanyol, Spain)
Cristian Ansaldi (Rubin Kasan, Russia)
Martín Demichelis (Bayern Munich, Germany)
Fernando Gago (Real Madrid, Spain)
Javier Mascherano (Liverpool, England)
Ever Banega (Valencia, Spain)
José Sosa (Bayern Munich)
Juan Román Riquelme (Boca Juniors)
Damián Escudero (Vélez Sársfield)
Sergio Agüero (Atlético de Madrid, Spain)
Angel Di María (Benfica, Portugal)
Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli, Italy)
Gonzalo Higuaín (Real Madrid)
Marco Rubén (Villarreal, Spain)
If you want my opinion, I’m surprised Estudiantes’ Pablo Piatti hasn’t been included, but the most notable points on that list, perhaps, are the last two. The inclusion of Gonzalo Higuaín, who appears to have finally made public the ‘choice’ (as if it was ever a real decision in his head) to play for Argentina over France, the country he was born in through an accident of his father’s own playing career, and which Raymond Domenech seems to think he should therefore be duty-bound to play for.
The club listed after Marco Rubén’s name, meanwhile, was a tricky decision for me to make. The AFA’s official site, in their squad list, still lists him as a River Plate player, as do El Gráfico in their own report on the squad selection. He will, however, be flying to Valencia (presumably) tomorrow before making his way on to Vila-Real where he’ll join his new club-mates, so I’ve chosen to list the club he’s now official registered at, despite him still being a River player when the squad was actually named.
The transfer fee is the subject of a little debate – Olé claim it’s US$7 million, whilst El Gráfico list it as a slightly more impressive €7 million. Either way it’s seven million of a unit of currency that’s strong against the Argentine peso, which makes one million whatever-it-ises for every goal Rubén scored for River in 36 official matches. Not only this, but River have also secured 15% of the player’s next transfer fee. Good business bearing in mind they paid Rosario Central US$8 million for him, Juan Ojeda and Cristián Villagra just twelve months ago.
As well as this, Liverpool wide man Sebastián Leto, formerly of Lanús, will join River on a twelve-month loan deal tomorrow or Friday, and his arrival will mark the fourth reinforcement of Diego Simeone’s term.
Andrés D’Alessandro is one player who won’t be arriving at the Monumental, but may be returning to Buenos Aires to play under his former boss Ramón Díaz at San Lorenzo. Gustavo Mascardi, the player’s agent, said on Wednesday that, ‘the offer is advanced, and firm,’ refusing to add a smutty wink for comic effect. River had talked with D’Alessandro’s current club, Real Zaragoza, as well, but apparently didn’t make a firm offer. According to Mascardi, ‘San Lorenzo are very close,’ presumably thanks to the persuasive powers of manager Díaz.
D’Alessandro doesn’t mind taking a pay cut to return home, in no small part because his second child is on the way (his daughter was born in England during his six-month spell at Portsmouth two years ago). At long last, it seems El Cabezón might be returning.