Diego Maradona, Juan Román Riquelme, Fernando Redondo and Esteban Cambiasso. All those in this illustrious list are products of Argentinos Juniors’ famous academy and the latest midfield hope of the conveyor belt is 22-year-old Esteban Rolón.
Having played an instrumental role in Argentinos Juniors’ Nacional B title winning campaign, sealing promotion back to the top flight, Rolón has found himself at the centre of intense transfer speculation from almost all of Argentina’s grandes and a variety of European clubs.
But after going back and forth with La Liga club Malaga it would now appear a deal has been agreed and Rolón is travelling to Spain to sign a five-year deal.
“I’m happy with the transfer to Malaga, it’s a new challenge for me,” Rolón told Radio Uno in Argentina on Wednesday.
After spending most of his life at Argentinos Juniors, even attending the school at the stadium, Rolón admits that it is difficult to leave: “It makes me sad to leave because Argentinos is my second family and I find it hard to say goodbye.”
It will likely be equally difficult for the club, who after sealing promotion saw manager Gabriel Heinze resign and have now lost a couple of key players from the starting eleven. Rolón credits the former Argentina international with his progress and recognises that were it not for Heinze, a European transfer wouldn’t be happening so soon.
“Heinze was so important for this transfer today; before him, I wasn’t even playing in the reserves,” Rolón explained.
Identifying the midfielder’s talent may have been easy but negotiating a deal with Argentinos has proved tough for Malaga and only a few days ago, the Spanish club said that the move was off as talks had not progressed. Rolón was supposed to be heading to Genoa instead but it according to agent Marcelo Cardozo, La Liga was the player’s preference and a €3.5 million transfer has now been agreed.
Javier Mascherano and Fernando Redondo have been mentioned as two players whom Rolón aspires to and while the youngster is an Argentine number five like the two mentioned, it is perhaps the latter, Rolón shares greater similarities with.
An elegant defensive midfielder, who drifts back between the centre backs to pick up the ball, Rolón is so often that first pass forward or burst of energy to carry the ball into the opponent’s half.
A tireless worker in winning possession but an equally dangerous playmaker from deep, where his vast range of passing and ease on the ball is put to use.
Former Argentina manager and Argentinos Juniors icon Sergio Batista said of Rolón: “He is the best 5 in Argentina today,” and while that might be hyperbolic, the potential is certainly there.
Malaga have already signed talented box-to-box midfielder Emanuel Cecchini from Banfield and having now added the more defensive Rolón, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that this could form the base of Argentina’s midfield in years to come.