Wednesday saw two birthdays in Argentine football: Juan Román Riquelme turned 31 (the fans turned out in strength at Boca’s training ground to wish him well) and Lionel Messi reminded us how astonishing he is for his age by turning twenty-two. So it seems as good a time as any to remind our readers that voting for the 2008-2009 HEGS / Mundo Albiceleste Award for Best Argentine Abroad has one week and a half left to run – it’ll close at midnight Argentine time on the final day of the Torneo Clausura season. Send those votes (Messi, Zabaleta or Giménez) to email@example.com, if you’ve not already. And speaking of Argentines Abroad, Estudiantes goalkeeper Mariando Andújar is about to become one – he’ll move to Catania in Italy when Estudiantes’ Copa Libertadores campaign comes to an end.
Andújar has caught the eye of several European clubs in an impressive year so far which has seen him apparently win a place as Diego Maradona’s first-choice goalkeeper for the Argentine national side, and will return to Italy after an eleven match spell with Palermo three seasons ago. Catania have five Argentines already on their books: Matías Silvestre; Ezequiel Carboni; Pablo Ledesma; Cristian Llama and Mariano Izco.
Catania’s previous first-choice goalkeeper, Albano Bizzarri, another Argentine, has been sold to Lazio to replace Juan Pablo Carrizo (are you keeping up here?) and this has brought Andújar into the reckoning. Neither the Argentine press nor Catania’s official website have any word on the transfer fee as yet, but Andújar has agreed a four-year contract.