No longer a prospect with a famous father, Giovanni Simeone has taken a firm step into the limelight in his own right following the completion of an €18 million move to Fiorentina after just one year in Serie A with Genoa.
13 goals in 36 appearances for the Rossoblu in his debut campaign alerted a number of clubs to the 22-year-old’s potential but after the likes of Tottenham Hotspur were linked to Simeone, Fiorentina moved to close one of the biggest transfers in the club’s history.
Having completed his medical on Wednesday, Simeone signed a five-year deal with the Viola and Genoa received an initial €15 million, which could rise to €18 million in performance-related bonuses.
Simeone’s arrival will almost certainly pave the way for Croatian striker Nikola Kalinic to join AC Milan but represents another step up for the River Plate academy product, having impressed at each stage of his career so far.
Twelve Serie A goals in a Genoa side that finished only four points safe from relegation was an excellent return for a young player with no experience outside Argentina’s top flight and only three less than 29-year-old Kalinic managed.
With improved service in a side that finished eighth last season, there is reason and expectation given the fee, that Simeone could better last season’s tally.
A predatory penalty box finisher, Simeone was among the youngster players in Europe’s top five leagues to reach double figures last season and it became clear very quickly that Genoa would be making a swift profit on the €5.1 million paid to River Plate.
Simeone’s goal frequency in Italy looks mightily impressive when compared to his time on loan with Banfield, where Simeone scored twelve goals in 36, and for River Plate, where the teenager mustered only four in 34 but these statistics fail to paint the full picture.
Chances to break into the first eleven at a huge club like River are difficult for any young player, barring only the most prodigious of talents, and so Simeone had to make do with fleeting substitute appearances on the whole but there was no denying his value at the club.
Giovanni had been a prolific goal scorer throughout the club’s youth divisions and when signing his first professional contract had the hefty release clause to match but it was on loan at Banfield, when Simeone got regular playing time under Matias Almeyda that the potential really began to shine through.
El Taladro were woefully inconsistent and yet Simeone’s quality was clear not only in his goal scoring but his ability to drift out wide, drop deep and integrate into play.
However, it was perhaps in an Argentina shirt that Simeone really made scouts pay attention as his goals fired La Albiceleste to the 2015 South American Championships.
Supplied by arguably the more naturally gifted Angel Correa and Cristian Espinoza, Simeone provided Argentina with the ruthlessness in front of goal that was missing and that he has gone on to show in Serie A.
Finishing the tournament as leading scorer was a landmark in Simeone’s early career but one that deserved a degree of caution. One only needs to look at the previous winners to see the potential but also the level of development needed – for every Neymar or Edinson Cavani, there is a Hugo Rodellega or Abel Hernández.
Simeone has passed the test for Argentina’s under-20s, proven himself at senior level with Banfield and made the leap to European football at Genoa, so taking the central striker’s role at a club like Fiorentina seems like a natural next step.
Should the goals continue to flow in Serie A, Fiorentina will be the next club looking to make a profit on his talents and Argentina will have yet another contender vying for the number nine role. To date in Giovanni’s career it has seemed impossible to mention him without referring to El Cholo but the 22-year-old is doing a great job of carving his own path.