All the players are eligible to play in the Olympic football tournament (born on or after 1 January 1993) and do not have to be playing their club football in Argentina. Debate between several of the Hand of Pod team has narrowed it down and as we get deeper into the countdown, some expert opinion will throw a bit more light on choices.
Feel free to comment as this is not a definitive list by any stretch of the imagination. There are some obvious names, hopefully some not so obvious names and probably double the amount that were mentioned but had to be cut.
On October 26th 2011, Diego Simeone handed the then 17-year-old Luciano Vietto his Racing debut in the Torneo Apertura against Lanús. El Cholo famously left the Avellaneda giants shortly after to take over at Atlético Madrid but their reunion at the Vicente Calderón last summer came as little surprise after the young striker had not only developed further in Argentina but made the transition to Spanish football look simple. Simeone knew better than anyone what he was getting and so the €20 million spent was a simple decision.
It hasn’t been a bad career trajectory so far, for a player who was released by Estudiantes at the age of fifteen and then failed a trial with Rosario Central. Racing Club were certainly pleased that these other clubs had missed something and when Simeone’s replacement, Luís Zubeldía handed Vietto his first start against San Martín in the 2012 Inicial, La Academia knew they had unearthed a real treasure.
A thunderous, right-footed long range strike, a firmly placed header and a close range, left-footed volley completed a perfect hat-trick and it proved only the beginning. Another hat-trick against Newell’s made Vietto the first Racing player to score two trebles in one short championship and although the club were struggling, the youngster was a glimmer of light in an otherwise rather gloomy era.
Understandably the player dubbed ‘the new Agüero’ was subject to interest from across Europe but a dip in form at the beginning of 2014 saw Villarreal win the race for a fee of only €5.5 million.
Most would have allowed for a period of adjustment after making the significant step up to Spanish football but in a dazzling debut year with El Submarino Amarillo, Vietto scored twenty goals and contributed nine assists.
Diego Simeone had seen enough of his young protégé to sanction a big money move: “He is fast, makes smart moves and shoots well with both feet,” El Cholo explained, but there is even more to Vietto than this. The Atleti coach likened his new signing to a young David Silva but noted the key distinction that although he doesn’t have as much of a goal threat, he does have a great ability to work for the team and floats between the lines, linking midfield to attack.
This dedication to the team cause and tireless running is ideal for a Simeone side and was no doubt a consideration when Atleti signed him. Although the 22-year-old has had to make do with a squad role so far, he no doubt is part of the club’s long-term strategy.
David Cartlidge – beIN sports/FourFourTwo @davidjaca“There is a price that comes with joining Atlético Madrid, and everyone knows about it. Luciano Vietto took that task of meeting the high physical demands Diego Simeone demands, and ultimately faltered in his first season in Madrid. However, Vietto need not despair. It takes a special individual to make the cut, to reach those impeccable levels. Others have gone before and him not made it, more will suffer the same fate too. A loan looks likely for a player that still needs to bulk up, add more muscle to his physique, and improve his tactical awareness in games. Atleti are ran in a smart manner these days, so you can expect a beneficial loan for Vietto. There he can find his goalscoring feet again, and also learn to enjoy his football. Simeone, a big fan of the player, will be watching.”
Michael Yokhin via ESPN FC@Yokhin“Intelligent on the run, tactically aware, technically sublime, dedicated and a great team player, the sky is the limit for Vietto, who could indeed become the new Agüero if he keeps his professional attitude and everything goes according to plan.”