Good news has been thin on the ground in Liniers but with Vélez Sarsfield in the middle of a relegation battle it was announced on Thursday that Mauro Zárate would be rejoining the club, on loan from Watford, for his third spell at the Estadio José Amalfitani.
The 30-year-old has agreed terms and Vélez have already confirmed the deal so all that is left is for Zárate to arrive back in Buenos Aires and join up with his new teammates and manager Gabriel Heinze.
Rumours of a return for Zárate had been swirling for a while but it wasn’t clear if Vélez were in the financial position to complete a deal. However, after coming through the academy, the club favourite had always stated that he wanted another stint in the white and blue and after speaking with the club’s directors an agreement was reached.
Mauro Zárate llegó a un acuerdo y será jugador de Vélez hasta final de la Superliga 17/18. El delantero, de 30 años, llega a préstamo e iniciará así su tercer ciclo en el club. En los próximos días se sumará a la pretemporada. ¡Bienvenido a casa, Mauro! pic.twitter.com/AUYHIcvJjK
Vélez will resume Superliga action one place above the relegation zone and following the sale of centre forward Maxi Romero to PSV, the club looked desperately short of goals.
Even with Romero, Vélez had scored only nine times in twelve Superliga fixtures and despite hiring promising coach Gabriel Heinze for the new year, the club’s need to operate in the transfer market was clear.
Zárate becomes the fifth reinforcement of the window after Guido Mainero, Agustín Bouzat, Marco Torsiglieri and Joaquín Laso but it will undoubtedly be the former under-20 World Cup winner who will excite supporters most.
As a product of the Vélez academy, Zárate was part of the squad that won the 2005 Clausura and was the Primera’s top scorer a year later. This club form in addition to helped an Argentina side with Sergio Agüero and Angel Di María to the under-20 World Cup in 2007, scoring the winner in the final, saw Qatari side Al-Saad pay a reported $16 million for Zárate.
Spells with Birmingham City, Lazio and Inter Milan followed with their own highs and lows as Zárate’s ill-discipline crept in but upon returning to Vélez in 2013, the forward immediately proved he was too good to be back in Argentina. Vélez lifted the Supercopa Argentina and Zárate formed a lethal partnership with Lucas Pratto in attack, finishing once more as the league’s top scorer with 13 goals in 19 matches.
That prompted a move to West Ham United and since then Zárate has struggled to find form through a combination of injury and lack of playing time. A serious knee injury suffered playing for Watford almost a year ago put an end to Zárate’s time in England and over the past few months, the 30-year-old has been on loan at Al-Nasr.
If Zárate can prove his fitness and produce anything near the level he did when he was last in the club’s colours then Gabriel Heinze has an incredible talent at his disposal. Goals have been lacking for Vélez and to ensure their top flight survival, goals are needed. A fit Mauro Zárate should bring that and while the club won’t be fighting for titles this time round, the returning hero could fire them away from relegation danger.