That’s the northern hemisphere summer, of course. Or the boreal summer transfer window, as La Nación‘s sports site put it on Monday. I noted last week that the number of Argentines moving to English Premier League clubs this year seems to have been quite an increase on previous windows (there are ten in all), so decided to do a post summarising all of them, with a couple of brief sentences on each. I’ll do the same for the couple of players from elsewhere who have also spent significant periods playing club football in Argentina. Do not expect anything deep and meaningful, but I’ll try and give some sort of a reaction to each and all of them. Transfers are listed per club, in alphabetical order.
Note I’m only doing this for incoming transfers. I am aware there are Argentines already playing in England, but assume the fans of their clubs will already know about them. Clubs not listed below haven’t signed an Argentine or anyone who’s played a significant amount of club football in Argentina – I’m going by this Wikipedia list.
Alexis Sánchez (Chile). Not a centre forward, which is what Arsenal probably need now Olivier Giroud has been injured (not that they could have known that when they brought Sánchez in, of course). All the same, the former River Plate man has already shown what he can bring to the attack; a lot of quality and pace. He’s not always the best system player, but should be a success.
Have not signed anyone fitting the remit for this post. Carlos Sánchez used to play for River Plate – but for the River Plate across the, erm, Río de la Plata in Montevideo.
Leonardo Ulloa. It’s pronounced (more or less) ‘Oo-sho-a’, in case you’re still wondering – the ‘ll’ which in normal Spanish would make a ‘y’ sound is, on the banks of the Río de la Plata, pronounced like a slightly hard ‘sh’. He’s had an interesting career trajectory, not least because he was rather pedestrian, goals-per-game wise, during his time in Argentina (where he didn’t particularly stand out for CAI, San Lorenzo, Arsenal de Sarandí and Olimpo), before moving to Spain, where he almost immediately turned into, more or less, a one-in-two striker, something he’s been ever since. He’s flown under the radar for most of his career – he’s now 28 – but it should be interesting watching him this season.
Esteban Cambiasso. Well, this is obviously a typo, isn’t it? Esteban Cambiasso, the joint-most successful Argentine footballer of all time*, scorer of perhaps the most beautiful team goal in World Cup finals history? Esteban Cambiasso, a former title-guzzler with Independiente, River Plate, Real Madrid and Internazionale? At Leicester City? I think I need a lie down. I can only assume they decided to go for him as some way of balancing out Ulloa’s previously unheralded career so that, combining the two of them, they’ve got a roughly average Argentine career footballer. But blimey. Esteban Cambiasso at Leicester City.
Willy Caballero. One can’t help but think that if, after being left out of the World Cup squad this year, he wanted to force himself into the eye of new Argentina manager Gerardo Martino by getting lots of playing time, he could have done it with a move to a club where the current goalkeeping incumbent is a bit more droppable than Joe Hart. Having said that, there’s a school of thought which says he’s been signed precisely because he’s likely to apply more pressure on Hart for a starting place, and if Caballero can keep up the level of performance he’s shown during the last few years at Málaga…
Bruno Zuculini. This one seems to have got lost in all the big-name fuss across town, having been wrapped up some time ago now, but I think it’s a fascinating signing. He’s got what it takes to adapt well to European football and be a good box-to-box option for a long time to come. Of course, he’s been loaned out to Valencia for this season, so City fans will have to wait for now.
Marcos Rojo. He’s not a bloody left back, all right?! He can play there, and did during the World Cup, but he’s a left-sided centre back and should – once a dispute with a former neighbour is cleared up and he’s able to get a work permit – fit in to United’s back three. He could of course also provide cover at left wing back if needed. I wrote about the signing for ESPNFC – you can read that article here.
Ángel Di María. Well, he should be a bit of a step up from Anderson, if nothing else.
Radamel Falcao García (Colombia). Made in Colombia, but finished at River Plate, Falcao’s move is a puzzling one in that it’s hard to see how he, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are all going to play at once. More likely it will result in one very strong forward being replaced by another one during the second half of matches, and for the money they’re paying and the squad number he’s got, Falcao surely isn’t going to be starting on the bench, is he?
Facundo Ferreyra. One of a coterie of players who were unwilling to head back to Ukraine given the situation there at present, Ferreyra should fit in well in England, once he settles. He’s quick and a good finisher. Unless he’s bulked up during his time at Shakhtar, he might need to put a bit of muscle on, but at the age of 23 this is the perfect time for the step to a more ‘visible’ league.
Federico Fazio. Decent Sevilla centre back who’s been on the fringes of the national team squad under Alejandra Sabella (whom he accused of a ‘lack of respect’ back in March for not giving him more playoff time), and will now be looking to play his way into the side once and for all, with Mauricio Pochettino – who gets on well with new Argentina boss Gerardo Martino since the two played together for Newell’s Old Boys between 1988 and 1994 – as his club boss. Not the quickest, but his position’s all right and he should do well.
West Bromwich Albion
Sebastián Blanco. I’d forgotten he existed! When I saw his name pop up, though, I was delighted. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him for Lanús a few years ago, and still aged just 26, I think he’s got a lot to bring to the table in England. Lovely little playmaker when he was playing down here, but I hope he doesn’t get muscled out of games in the Premier League – he’s not the biggest chap in the world.
West Ham United
Mauro Zárate. It would be easy to see what any new manager would love about Zárate on the pitch, if it weren’t for the fact that his new manager is Sam Allardyce. Quick-footed, adept at dropping back to join the build-up play before racing through onto through balls, and good at working the channels, Zárate doesn’t strike me as – how can I put this? – the most Allardyce-friendly of players. He’s tended to get into conflicts with managers at previous clubs as well, but if everyone can get on well enough and he keeps scoring belting volleys from outside the box, I’m sure they’ll all get on famously.
*In terms of official championships won; he’s currently tied with Lionel Messi on 23 apiece.