Simon Penrose returns with the latest update in his ‘Next Generation’ series. Ezequiel Ponce, Giovani Lo Celso and Giovanni Simeone remain the focus of his attention as he tracks their progress each week along with any other impressive performances from young Argentine players in Europe.
Ligue 1 got up and running this weekend amid the circus that was Neymar’s transfer to Paris Saint-Germain but on the pitch it was largely disappointing for two of Argentina’s brightest prospects.
Ezequiel Ponce got seven measly minutes with a Lille side that was already winning 3-0 and playing superbly. The centre-forward barely touched the ball and frankly, it was a token gesture of Bielsa to bring him on. Ponce will need to do more to convince the great man to give him some much needed game time.
Judging by the way Lille lined up, Ponce will struggle to find a place in a fluid side that played with width and invention. However, it is a long season and the 20-year-old should get more playing time.
Giovani Lo Celso was benched for Paris Saint-Germain’s opening round victory over Amiens and failed to get any minutes. Neymar was yet to be included in the squad and the Brazilian’s arrival will be further cause for concern given that the 21-year-old could be in for a tough time to simply get near the bench let alone Unai Emery’s starting eleven.
Gio Simeone, although still taking part in a shift through the dirge of friendlies that is the Italian pre-season, has been linked heavily with a move to either England or Spain in the British media.
The 22-year-old scored from the penalty spot in Genoa’s convincing victory over Heerenveen but it will be interesting to see whether he will be at Genoa come the 1st September.
Sebastián Driussi, in contrast to the three above, was in wonderful form and continues to demonstrate just why Zenit St. Petersburg were so keen to sign him.
A beautiful pass set up Zenit’s first goal for Aleksandr Kokorin in the 5-1 demolition of Spartak Moscow and judging by his all round game and wide smile, he appears to have settled in well.
The 21-year-old also laid on the fourth goal with a slide-rule pass of real quality.
Sporting Clube de Portugal’s contingent of Argentine’s were also pointed out after the first part of ‘Next Generation’ and while Marcos Acuña may already be a little old to be considered here, El Huevo’s assured performance in midfield was a highlight.
Jonathan Silva and Rodrigo Battaglia also made appearances from the bench in a team that on paper has a real chance of winning the league this season.
There will be more ‘Next Generation’ every week so keep your eyes peeled.
Simon Penrose, a 30 something football nut from South-West England. Love football and reading. Have loved River Plate since I signed Javier Saviola on Championship Manager. I look forward to any comments, positive or negative.