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The big money move already in the bag, admittedly to a somewhat surprise destination at the time, Sebastián Driussi now aims to establish himself as one of the top strikers in Europe. A blistering start with Zenit St. Petersburg has slowed a little but the 21-year-old remains a serious talent.
A talent that has been clear from a very early age but that has had these highs and lulls throughout and at present just holds Driussi back from really setting the world alight. The spectacular 2016 season that saw Driussi score 17 league goals for River shot the young forward into the limelight and prompted Zenit to part with around €20 million was in stark contrast to the period that preceded it.
So much so that it looked at one point during the window before that breakthrough season that Driussi’s future may lie away from the Monumental. That, in part, was due to the youngster’s versatility and willingness to play wherever River asked him.
Since making his debut as a seventeen-year-old under Ramón Díaz and initially with Marcelo Gallardo in charge, Driussi was often utilised out wide as a makeshift winger and struggled to make much of an impression. River were aware of his skills but competition for places up front limited opportunities and it wasn’t until 2016 when paired with Lucas Alario in attack that things fell into place.
The goal scoring feats that had seen River pay a considerable sum to keep the young boy within the academy after recognising his talent aged nine, fire LosMillonarios to the under-17 World Cup Cup in 2013 or dazzle in various national team youth sides were suddenly evident.
Five goals from his first 63 appearances made way for a sensational 20 in 35 during the 2016/17 season and it was clear that River would soon be cashing in on the latest product off the Millonarios assembly line.
Driussi’s rapid bursts of acceleration, tireless workrate, positional awareness, intelligent movement and goal scoring instincts made him a predatory finisher and armed River with the sharpness that has been lacking since his sale to Zenit.
Marcelo Gallardo had his young protégé studying tapes of Luís Suárez and in his tigerish appetite for the ball and penalty box alertness there are shades of the Uruguayan. Driussi’s willingness to learn has been an important part of his development and while similarities with Suárez are a stretch, there are plenty of attributes to make him an international class striker.
Driussi played a key part in six major titles with River and had he and Alario stayed put this season, Gallardo’s side may well have added to that haul. However, what the 21-year-old has already proved is that he can perform on the big stage with the pressure well and truly on and that must now be carried over to Russia, where Zenit have plenty to play for.