Atlético Tucumán’s remarkable first season in the Primera after promotion and their path all the way to qualification for the Copa Libertadores perhaps wasn’t built on individual stars but of those that shone brightest, Leonel Di Plácido certainly stood out.
The 23-year-old came through the ranks at Buenos Aires club All Boys but has spent the past 18 months in Tucumán after El Decano had sealed a historic return to the top flight and it proved to be a masterstroke. A consistent performer, Di Plácido brought all the energy and pace that is expected of a modern full-back and impressed against Argentina’s biggest clubs as Atlético continued to punch above their weight.
Chalking up five assists last season, the width that Di Plácido provided for El Decano was an important weapon and provided the likes of Fernando Zampedri and Cristian Menéndez with plenty of ammunition in attack. However, that is not to say that Mochila neglects his defensive duties and even during a slightly underwhelming campaign as a team last season, Di Plácido still won back possession more than five times a game on average.
With his loan expired, a return to All Boys impossible and plenty of big sides hovering, Lanús eventually swooped in preparation for José Luis Gómez’s (one from last year’s Golazo 50) departure. Having watched Gómez break into Jorge Sampaoli’s plans, El Granate have now added one of the best possible replacements from the Primera and there is no reason why another attacking full-back couldn’t provide competition in the national team set-up.
“With Argentina’s defence and full-back positions in need of reinforcing, Sampaoli may just have a solution that has been hidden away in Tucumán for the past season and a half. Leonel Di Plácido has the pace and potency down the wing that marks him out as a real prospect in a position where few clubs boast game-changing talent and where La Albiceleste have been crying out for a full-back who attacks with the energy and skill of a Dani Alves or Marcelo.
Such is Di Plácido’s prowess in the final third, El Decano have even thrown him forward into a number ten role on occasion when in need of a goal and while an Argentina call might be a little premature at the moment, it will come as no surprise if Sampaoli tries him out bombing down the right.”
Something of an unknown even in Argentina until the under-20 World Cup in South Korea, Santiago Colombatto’s route in football has not been a straightforward one and although Los Pibes group stage exit in May was one of utter disappointment, the all-action midfielder came away with some credit.
Born in Ucacha, the ten-year-old Colombatto moved to Buenos Aires to follow his dream of being a professional footballer and it was in the academies of Racing Club and River Plate, that the youngster honed his talents. However, when at seventeen he was released by River, Colombatto was offered the rare opportunity to travel to Italy and trial with then Serie B side Cagliari.
A physical, tenacious ball winner and tactically astute passer, Colombatto impressed and has been in Italy ever since being sent out on a couple of loans to gain further experience. Yet to really make a statement at club level, this season the 20-year-old will be in Serie B with Perugia and his performances for Argentina suggest he will have plenty to offer.
Colombatto has stated that his idols are Javier Mascherano and Fernando Redondo and while his early career has suffered the early setbacks that perhaps neither of those did, there is still hope that the midfielder could make a real impact in Europe.
“Part of a growing trend of players to have left Argentina before even making a top flight debut, Santiago Colombatto was a relative unknown when called into Argentina’s Under World Cup squad this summer. However, that did not deter the diminutive Córdoba native. Who as it turns out would be one of the few players to leave the championship in Korea with an improved reputation.
A metronomic, midfield maestro in the ‘Xavi mould’, Colombatto has spent the last few seasons on loan from parent side Cagliari, who took the youngster from River Plate’s world famous academy. Despite talk of interest from a host of Serie A sides, the midfielder opted for Perugia and return to Italy’s second tier. Albeit an emphatic start to the campaign including both scoring and creating goals, suggests his apprenticeship in the lower leagues set to come an end much sooner rather than later!”