Arsenal reportedly sent scouts to watch Rosario Central take on Palmeiras in the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday night as the Gunners became the latest European side to track the progress of Central’s young playmaker, Giovani Lo Celso. A host of top clubs are supposedly lining up for the 19-year-old in June but it is French champions, Paris St Germain that remain in pole position after a reported offer of €15 million last month . Central are keen to hold onto their brightest youngster until the end of 2016 given that he has established himself as a vital part of Eduardo Coudet’s squad while they challenge for the Primera title and the Copa Libertadores but would be unable to turn down such a sum.
Serie A side, Roma had been unsuccessful at the start of the season with an €8 million bid as they had tried to tie up business as soon as possible. However, Central were wise to allow Lo Celso to further exhibit his talents this season and have only seen his valuation rise. Paris St Germain’s bid almost doubles this initial amount and with interest now from Arsenal, Juventus, Manchester United, Liverpool and Atlético Madrid this may rise further.
Over the past year, Central have risen to the top of Argentine football and despite narrowly missing out on honours in 2015, they now appear to be the team to beat. Aside from Coudet’s well-drilled defence, Marco Ruben’s goals and Benfica-bound Franco Cervi catching the eye, young playmaker Giovani Lo Celso has been one of the standouts. Such interest from Europe at this early stage of his career should come as little surprise to anyone who has watched Central in 2016.
Lo Celso arrived at Central in 2010 and has risen up through the youth ranks to Eduardo Coudet’s first team and gained a reputation as one of Argentina’s most talented young players. A midfielder of superb technique, Lo Celso exhibits a good first touch and an eye for a pass, ideal for his position in central midfield behind centre-forward Marco Ruben. Lo Celso has already shown glimpses of his array of passes during last season but is now a vital part of Central’s title challenges and in nine Primera matches this season has five assists and his first goal for the club.
Rosario Central president, Raúl Broglia was made aware of the interest in Lo Celso in Janaury but told reporters: “For now, there is nothing. No one has contacted us.”
However, Broglia admitted, “Of course in football, there are figures that cannot be rejected but it has to be a very tempting offer to sit down and negotiate. Our intention is that Lo Celso continues playing at Central for some time.”
Central have already sold Franco Cervi to Benfica in a deal which will see the attacker move to Portugal at the end of the current European season for $5.3 million. With this in mind, Broglia is loathed to lose another of his young talents: “We sold Cervi knowing that we had Lo Celso behind. Now (in the event that Lo Celso is sold) we don’t have anyone to take that position and that is why we are in no hurry.”
Central, like all Argentine clubs are at the mercy of the European market, and Broglia will know that if Paris St Germain are serious about signing Lo Celso, there is little he can do to prevent this. A star in the Primera and the Copa Libertadores and a possible Argentina Olympic squad member, the 19-year-old should be in no hurry to move to Europe at this point from a development point of view.