It’s time to talk about what everybody was waiting for. Yes, there was some interest to know the names of our future defensive unit or our midfield core, but let’s face it: goals are the engine of football, its heart and soul. Even though this World Cup and the previous Euro (won by Greece in 2004) were clear examples of the predominance of the defensive game, people are far from falling in love with teams like Greece in 2004 or Italy in 2006. Fans all over the World (thank goodness) still lose their sleep dreaming of skilful players scoring those impossible goals and becoming legends.
Argentina has a history to respect and the best way to honour that glorious past is by keep on generating more exciting talents with only one objective: to burn the net!
As we saw during the recent World Cup, we’ve got some powerful attackers and a solid base to start working on for South Africa 2010.
Let’s take a look:
Carlos TEVEZ: There is a commercial ad decorating the streets in Buenos Aires. It has Carlitos’ picture and a sentence that says it all: ‘Nacido en Fuerte Apache, querido en todas partes’ (‘Born in Fuerte Apache (a poor and marginal neighbourhood in Buenos Aires), loved everywhere’. That’s what stands out more about this immensely talented young man. Never in the past an Argentine was beloved in Brazil like he is ever since he went to play for Corinthians. There were some Brazilians supporting Argentina because of CARLITOS! Believe me, that says a lot!
He had a great World Cup and I think he was the best player (along with AYALA) in our game against Germany. He will surely sign a big contract sometime in the near future for a big European club (hope it’s not Chelsea!) and he will become a real star for our National Team. He is irreplaceable!
Javier SAVIOLA: Some where saying this was his last World Cup and I hope they are wrong! He is about to sign a contract for Arsenal to play alongside Thierry HENRY after being incredible neglected by FC Barcelona (AGAIN!). He always scored. No matter where he played.
I still remember the first time I saw him. He was 16 and made his debut in the first division for River Plate against the tricky Gimnasia y Esgrima Jujuy. He came in with a few minutes left in a difficult away match and he scored. He never stopped. Had a great World Cup too (specially the first two matches). Faded out a little against Mexico (not making the most in a couple of crucial chances) and then he didn’t play against Germany. But he will still be playing in Europe’s elite and will have great experience come South Africa 2010. I expect to have him in our team.
Hernan CRESPO: Well…I think that was it. A ‘Silver Shoe’ award for being the second placed striker (ahead of RONALDO only because CRESPO played less minutes) will come as a consolation prize I’m sure he rather not have and would exchange it for a better placement by Argentina.
But there went his third World Cup. First as a starter but I think also the last. He will continue to play in our National Team (I believe so) but I’m sure he won’t be making it to South Africa, his age being the main reason.
Julio CRUZ: I feel sorry for the guy. People think he was the obstacle we had from being able to watch MESSI those last minutes against Germany. But the truth is that CRUZ was always committed to the cause. He had no problems to travel the whole world with no previous notice and always declared ready to play only to be benched again and again by BIELSA, PEKERMAN or whoever was in charge.
He never complained. He is a serious hard worker and has shown in more than one occasion that he can score. He will continue to do so for Inter (or maybe somewhere else if Inter signs Luca TONI) but I’m afraid he won’t be playing for Argentina anymore.
Lionel MESSI: He is a gem for the Argentine football and football in general. ‘A blessing’ as PEKERMAN once said. No doubt he’ll become the nucleus of this new era. He just need to grow up and gain some experience that will only be beneficial for our National Team.
In 2010, he will be the kind of player that can lead a team to stardom. The way I see it, there is no other player today that can make an impact quite like him in four years time.
Rodrigo PALACIO: Yeah, he struggled against Ivory Coast. A little bit because of inadequate shoes (he was slipping all the time!) but also because of inappropriate tactics (he was left alone in our attacking front and had no partners to play with in those horrible last 20 minutes we played in that opening match).
He will use that experience for the future. He will also make the quality leap towards a European league in the near future and if he can emulate his performances for Boca somewhere else, he’ll be one to watch in the future.
So far, so good. You all know these players and I suppose we are pretty much in the same page regarding who of those will make it to South Africa 2010 and who won’t.
I know you, so I will stop going round and round and round and I’ll go straight to what you want to read: our future attackers! Here they are:
Sergio AGÜERO: I remember Jorge VALDANO once said about the great Brazilian legend ROMARIO: ‘That player is a cartoon’s character! The way he plays, there is something fantastic about him’. Now there are two things that relate a lot about that sentence and Sergio: First of all, he was compared to ROMARIO soon after he made his appearance for Independiente. Physically he is very similar, those bent legs, that killing pace…
Secondly, and most incredibly, he has a cartoon’s character nickname! Many of you may be wondering what’s all that about the name KUN. Well…KUN is a Japanese cartoon character from AGÜERO’s favourite anime series when he was a little boy. He loved that character (actually named KUN KUN) so much that very soon everybody started calling him simply KUN. And boy he does play like a cartoon’s character! He is elastic. He’s fast. He’s also tough.
Signed by Atletico Madrid, KUN is already an idol in Spain’s capital and will try and carry Atletico’s flag to the top of La Liga once again. Expect him to be a key member for Argentina starting NOW!
Diego MILITO: He was very close to join his brother GABRIEL in this recent World Cup. He plays for Zaragoza with him and he is a terrific goal scorer. Ever since he made his debut for Racing Club (did I tell you I support Racing? Ha!) I knew he was something special. Had a couple of great seasons here and was soon signed by one of the sleeping giants in Italian football: GENOA.
Diego (what a name he has, right?) became their top scorer and won promotion to Serie A, only for Genoa to be relegated to Serie C after a ‘little bit’ of corruption by their president.
Then he decided to go to Zaragoza and he became very famous after scoring 4 goals in a match against Real Madrid for the Copa del Rey. He also became Zaragoza’s main target man and he continued to deliver. If he maintains his level of performances, I won’t be surprise if he becomes the striker of our future.
Luciano FIGUEROA: Poor LUCHO (same nickname of GONZALEZ). He suffered a leg fracture while playing for River Plate when he was getting ready to join Argentina’s World Cup squad.
Never really showed his real potential when he went to play for Villarreal, but he did great everytime he pulled the Albiceleste at every level. Had a great Confederations Cup and scored some important goals in the World Cup Qualifiers. But had that horrible injury and missed out. If he comes back strong, he should have some chances in the future.
Luciano GALLETTI: In terms of age and experience, he could be making the trip to South Africa. But will he play to the best of his ability in the future? Is he past his prime? He is the only one who can reply to these answers and it all depends on him and how can he perform from now on.
All of these are proven attackers and not risky bets when we are talking of the chances they have to play for Argentina. Below you’ll read some names you probably never heard of. Some young, up and coming talents who could also be in our next manager radar.
But before we get to that, let me throw another name to you. A player that made a bad move in his career and was soon forgotten.
Fernando CAVENAGHI: What a great striker he is! Started playing for River Plate and started breaking scoring records. Sensational instinct and scoring ability.
He was rumoured to move to Italy, Spain or England but instead he (probably ill advised) took the first offer and went on to play for Spartak Moscow. Hardly an exciting team in a hardly competitive league.
Now he is struggling to find his old form and at the same time, he is out of the radar everytime a national manager thinks about the players to pick for a match or a tournament.
Can he put his career back on track? Will somebody take him to the biggest leagues in Europe? Will he come back to Argentina to build up his career once again? If the answer to one of this questions is ‘yes’, then we could add an amazing goal scorer to our team. I hope we do.
Now ‘Los pibes’ (‘the lads’ or ‘the kids’) as we say in Argentina when refering to the young men.
Ignacio SCOCCO: OK, could be a one time wonder but he scored 13 goals in his first season playing for Newell’s Old Boys (yeah…you’ve got it, same team where a certain Gabriel Omar BATISTUTA started his career!).
He was unstoppable! He scored with both feet and he is as powerful as he is skilled. So much that he was already signed by the Mexican club PUMAS UNAM. Too soon to call. We need to see if he keeps on scoring in Mexico. One to watch, no doubt about it.
Diego BUONANOTTE: Another fine product of River Plate’s youth system, ‘COTI’ is only 17 years old and 1,60 mts.
Left footed, blue eyed, Diego (what is it with that name?) is yet to make his first division debut but is already raising a few eye-brows. Watch out for him.
And of course you can’t forget the strikers of last year’s Youth World Cup in The Netherlands:
Gustavo OBERMAN (River Plate), Neri CARDOZO (Boca Juniors) and Pablo VITTI (Rosario Central). They are not quite there in the mix, but they are still young and have time on their side.
I like what I see here. There will be a ‘good fight’ for places and that will only make them improve and get better.
Who’s your favourite out of these group?