Gaining their independence

Two Independiente players may be in line for moves to foreign climes soon. One of them you’ve probably heard of (if you follow the Argentine league, anyway), the other… well, if you’ve heard of the other you need to get out more. Lucas Pusineri, 32-year-old midfield stalwart, might have an offer from Major League Soccer, whilst English giants Arsenal have decided, after Andrei Arshavin apparently convinced Arsene Wenger that signing players with a bit of experience just doesn’t work, that they’re going to go back to players who’ve just finished toilet training. Anyone heard of goalkeeper Damián Martínez? No, me neither.

Martínez is a 16-year-old ‘keeper who currently plays in the sexta (a youth team – ‘first’ being the first team, ‘reserva’ being the reserves, and the ones below being successively numbered) for the Avellaneda club. Should any Arsenal fans be reading this and wanting to hear that their potential new signing already has a wealth of experience for one so young, I’ve got disappoint you I’m afraid. He’s never even been close to the Independiente first team bench, but is travelling (along with goalkeeping coach Pepe Santoro) to London for a trial with the English club. The talk (according to Argentine sports daily Olé) is of Arsenal paying for 60% of Martínez’s registration, for a fee somewhere between US$1m-1.5m.

Pusineri is rather more experienced. He’s had a bit of a love affair (not literally) with current Independiente boss Américo Gallego, ever since scoring a vital equaliser against Boca Juniors which provided a springboard for the club to win their last domestic title, the 2002 Torneo Apertura. After spells at Saturn Moscow and River Plate, Pusineri is now in his third spell with the Avellaneda giants, but his contract runs out in June of next year. His current employers would be unlikely to stand in his way should the chance arise to make some decent money at a late stage of his career with a move to MLS. Watch this space…

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