When an outrageouly talented, young playmaker helped River Plate to the under-17 World Club Championship in 2013, European clubs sat up and took notice of the name Tomás Andrade. The 16-year-old was named the player of the tournament after orchestrating victories over Barcelona and Atlético Madrid and despite not yet making a name for himself at senior level, Marcelo Gallardo and River obviously still think very highly of the youngster after handing him an improved deal at the club that runs until 2020.
This new contract includes a buyout clause of €15 million which is somewhat more than the approximately €3 million that Premier League club Bournemouth could have signed him for at the end of a loan deal that was eventually cancelled.
Six months on the south coast with the Cherries didn’t work out and with no sign of involvement in Eddie Howe’s first team, all parties agreed to end the loan deal and Andrade returned to Buenos Aires.
— River Plate (@CARPoficial) August 27, 2016
This was not the first time that Andrade had tasted European football despite his young age. As a prodigiously talented child within Lanús’ youth system, a ten-year-old Andrade travelled to Spain for trials with Barcelona and Atlético Madrid but a failure to settle due to home sickness saw him swiftly return.
The proximity to his Temperley home was a key factor in joining Lanús’ academy but in 2011, Andrade left El Granate and was close to signing a deal with Argentinos Juniors before being persuaded that River Plate was the best place for his development.
A year after joining Los Millonarios, Andrade helped the under-17s to that World Club title in Spain and after being named the player of the tournament the comparisions that many within River’s youth system were making between the tricky playmaker and former graduate Andrés D’Alessandro were clear.
The following summer Andrade once more caught the eye of European scouts when he scored in a 3-1 win over Everton during the Dallas Cup and it prompted the Merseyside club to bring the teenager over to England for a trial.
Everton manager at the time, Roberto Martínez said, “Tomas has got that raw natural talent to use in attacking play. He is left-footed and can play in between the lines. He has a very interesting profile.
“He is a young man with a terrific talent, who is already with us. Hopefully we are going to agree a loan to allow him to get used to the British game. He is one for the future, not for the first team straight away.”
While this switch to the Toffees never materialised, Bournemouth moved quickly to bring Andrade on loan and appeared to have pulled off a remarkable coup. However, as Roberto Martínez had hinted would be the case at Everton, the 18-year-old was only given a role in the under-21 squad with the Cherries and six months into the year-long loan, it was agreed that he should return to River.
Last season saw Andrade make his senior River debut and although the width of a post denied him a goal, the flashes of his talent were clear. The drops of the shoulder, the cutting in from the right onto his favoured left foot, tempting defenders into challenges all had a very D’Alessandro look to them.
Now appearing to have a role in Marcelo Gallardo’s first team after appearing as a substitute in the Recopa Sudamericana triumph over Independiente Santa Fe, this will be an important year for Andrade. River obviously feel that it will be a season in which the 19-year-old showcases his talent and the hefty buyout clause reflects this.