Jorge Sampaoli might have missed out on the Argentina coaching job but the 56-year-old is quietly starting his own Albiceleste revolution in Sevilla after Thursday’s addition of defender Gabriel Mercado from River Plate.
The 29-year-old international signed a three-year deal after completing his medical on Thursday morning and joins compatriots Matías Kranevitter, Luciano Vietto, Franco Vásquez, Joaquín Correa and Nicolás Pareja at the Andalusian club.
The transfer is reported to be for a fee of around €2.5 million and with Sevilla selling former captain, Coke to Schalke earlier in the week, it is likely that Mercado will go straight into Sampaoli’s first team.
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After putting pen to paper with his new club, Mercado said, “Everything has happened so fast and I am feeling very anxious.
“This is my first day, I passed my medical, signed the contract and this will be my first training.
“After that, I will find out which shirt is mine and I will put it away as a keepsake.”
River Plate retain 20% of any future transfer fee but Mercado’s value goes well beyond any financial gain after four years at the Estadio Monumental which brought one league title, the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Libertadores.
Despite starting his career with Racing and winning a Primera title with Estudiantes in 2010, it is with River that Mercado has truly established himself and the 29-year-old now finds himself as Argentina’s first choice right back.
An international career has had to wait until quite late even though Mercado was a member of the Argentina under-20 that captured the World Cup in 2007.
However, under Gerardo Martino and in the absence of Pablo Zabaleta, the 29-year-old made the right back position his own for La Albiceleste. Mercado played every minute of Argentina’s Copa América campaign and is currently the leading scorer in World Cup qualifying.
At 29, it was perhaps a last opportunity for Mercado to test himself in Europe and over the last few years, he has proved himself as more than ready. Sevilla should be the perfect destination and it can only be good news for the club, for Mercado and for Argentina.