Another Argentine moved to Europe on Saturday, with Carlos Matheu, star defender of Independiente’s successful campaign to return to the Copas, moving from Avellaneda to Lokomotiv Moscow for US$3.3 million. He’ll join former River Plate midfielder Guillermo Pereyra in Russia’s administrative capital, and had some kind words to say about the rising status of Russian football in the European heirarchy.
Just over a year ago, Matheu was interested in moving, but didn’t want to ‘play two matches and then return to the bench’, realising that more regular first-team action would help his development more. He’s been well served. Then, a Russian club offered US$400,000 for his transfer. In twelve months, his value has increased eightfold as a fantastic season personally culminated in a superb goal on the last day of the Clausura against Argentinos Juniors. Matheu leaves Independiente having scored the goal which was finally decisive in getting them into continental competition.
Clubs from Italy and Spain had been interested in Matheu to. To wit: Juventus; Genoa; Real Betis, Deportivo de La Coruña, and Racing Santander. Ultimately, though, the 23-year-old is going to Russia because ‘at international level they finished in the semi-finals [of Euro 2008] and attracted a lot of attention. Zenit [St. Petersburg] won the UEFA Cup. Russian football has turned into a very highly thought of league… As well as that, the coach [Rashid Rakhimov] knows a bit of Spanish, so I don’t think I’ll have too many problems adapting.’ Well, that’s a bonus.
Matheu now travels to Europe – first to Germany, where he’ll take his medical, and then on to the Russian capital. Having started with Independiente six years ago at the age of 17, he now embarks on a new stage of his career.