“It’s an offer that the club can’t refuse,” were the words of Marcelo Gallardo as he confirmed on Friday morning that River Plate’s leading scorer Sebastián Driussi was poised to complete a €15 million transfer to Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg.
As speculated a couple of weeks ago, Zenit’s interest in the 21-year-old was real and the side, now managed by Roberto Mancini, has met the striker’s release clause.
“I spoke with Driussi, and the player is convinced that the transfer will completed,” Gallardo told the press.
Driussi’s tremendous form in front of goal has seen interest from Sampdoria, Roma, Inter and Tottenham but Zenit have won the race and will be adding one of the biggest talents in Argentine football to their ranks.
The 21-year-old has scored 17 goals in the league and another three in the Copa Libertadores this season, marking what has been a spectacular breakthrough year under the guidance of Marcelo Gallardo.
Always considered a bright talent from River’s academy after scoring plenty of goals at youth level and for Argentina, when Driussi first came into Gallardo’s first team set-up it was often as a versatile squad member, who would fill in out wide when needed rather than as a central striker.
Whether the youngster would ever make his mark wasn’t clear and even before the start of this season there was talk of a loan move elsewhere in Argentina. However, played alongside Lucas Alario, Driussi has been outstanding, his tireless workrate and deadly finishing perhaps the result of Gallardo having him study tapes of Barcelona forward Luis Suárez.
A transfer to Russia is perhaps not what many expected for Driussi but the striker will be able to test himself against the best in the Champions League.