Barcelona have reportedly sealed a preliminary deal with Independiente for 16-year-old midfielder, Lucas Patanelli despite similar reports towards the end of last year that Real Madrid had completed a pre-contract after showing the youngster around the club’s facilities. Several media outlets in Spain and Argentina have stated that the Catalan giants have agreed to pay El Rojo $4 million for a 50% stake in their academy product and this has beaten off interest from Madrid, Paris St Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City.
Patanelli has been on the radar of european scouts for some time after shining in Independiente’s Octava División side and did in fact travel to Real Madrid’s Bernabéu stadium and training facilities last year when a deal was close. FIFA rulings prevented the then 15-year-old Patanelli from signing immediately but the understanding wa that a pre-contract would be signed to safe-guard Madrid’s interest and once Patanelli turned sixteen, last month, he would be free to make the move.
It is now understood that nothing concrete was agreed and despite interest from a host of top European clubs, Barcelona have made the offer to Independiente which is too good to refuse. $4 million with El Rojo retaining 50% of his ownership and therefore any future profit plus several clauses, presumably regarding Patanelli fulfilling his potential, is an incredible deal for any Argentine club.
After previously representing both River Plate and Argentinos Juniors, Patanelli has established himself as one of the most promising youth players in Independiente’s academy and as a child has performed on the pitch at the Estadio Libertadores de América showcasing his prodigous talents.
Inevitably the European press have already labelled Patanelli as the ‘next Messi’ given his age and nationality but not only is this ridiculous in any instance, the 15-year-old appears quite a different type of player to the young Messi that emerged from Barcelona’s La Masia. Possessing excellent close control would be one attribute the two have in common but Patanelli is described as an enganche by those at Independiente and has a much lankier frame than Messi.
For now Patanelli is understood to remain at Independiente but such is the economic situation in Argentine football, it seems unlikely that Independiente supporters will ever see Patanelli represent the first team. Equally it is very likely that he will not be the next Lionel Messi but it is worth the relatively small expense for a club like Barcelona to sign him early and oversee his development in their academy.