Now that the January transfer window has closed in England, I’ve been given the go-ahead to report, exclusive to HEGS, that a few days ago a representative of Arsenal’s scouting team in London enquired about offering a contract to Claudio Yacob of Racing Club here in Buenos Aires. Yacob’s contract with Racing expires in June, and if Arsenal’s interest grows during the rest of the season he could be an inexpensive addition to the midfield of a club who have seemed averse to spending big in the transfer market.
Yacob (pronounced ‘Sha-cob’ thanks to the peculiar aspiration Argentine Spanish puts on the ‘y’/’ll’ sound) is a 24-year-old defensive midfielder, and made his Racing debut in November 2006, moving to the club after starting out in Boca Juniors’ youth ranks. He was a member of the Argentina team which won the Under 20 South American championships and then the Under 20 World Cup in 2007. He’s a good tackler and an industrious, competitive patrol man in the middle of the pitch. During Racing’s impressive yet ultimately frustrating Torneo Clausura campaign he played 16 matches, scoring once and being shown one red card. He wasn’t always the most popular man in the team, even though he remained influential.
Yacob is on a sizeable contract by Argentine standards, and Racing – like the overwhelming majority of Argentine clubs – have to cut costs. They finished the Torneo Apertura – the championship played during the first half of the Argentine season – in second place with seven wins and only two defeats, but an enormous ten draws left them twelve points behind champions Boca Juniors, and wondering what might have been. That meant that after leading them to their best campaign in years, manager Diego Simeone (who’s since moved to Atlético de Madrid) was strangely unpopular, and the dressing room was split.
Yacob, the club captain, was one of the more vocal players in those internal arguments, and although Racing will be reluctant to let him go on a free (he was a transfer target for several clubs a year ago), my source tells me they’re prepared to cut the losses they’re making on his wages. He has an Italian passport, which would ease his passage into the Premier League given the UK’s employment laws, and is at an age where a move abroad shouldn’t be beyond his capabilities. Whether Arsenal’s interest comes to anything or whether they find themselves competing with other clubs between now and the end of the season is another matter of course, but first contact has been made, and I’ll do my best to keep you up to date with this as the season continues on my Twitter account.
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