Without a place in Boca Juniors’ squad for the upcoming season, Gonzalo Maroni has completed a season-long loan deal to Serie A club Sampdoria complete with a reported €15 million option to make the switch permanent.
Maroni, who has been on international duty with Argentina under-20s at the recent World Cup, was set to return to Boca Juniors after a loan with Talleres last season. However, the Buenos Aires giants adding Brighton loanee Alexis Mac Allister to their squad for the upcoming campaign saw competition for places at La Bombonera only increase.
As an attacking midfielder by trade there was no route to Gustavo Alfaro’s starting eleven with Carlos Tevez, Mauro Zárate, Mac Allister and Emanuel Reynoso just some of the names blocking Maroni’s path so another loan away suited all parties.
— Sampdoria English (@sampdoria_en) June 25, 2019
Two goals and one assist from 18 Superliga appearances at Talleres last season may not look overly impressive but Maroni remains one of Argentina’s brightest prospects as his prominent role in the under-20 set-up would suggest.
A move to Italy represents a huge challenge for Maroni but one that the 20-year-old should relish.
“I’d like to thank the President, Massimo Ferrero. I’m thrilled that he brought me here and I’m aware that I’m joining a very big Italian club. I’m here to give my all and contribute in my own way,” Maroni told the Sampdoria website.
A promising ninth-placed finish last season in Serie A as a foundation to build on and an opportunity to work under new manager Eusebio Di Francesco could aid Maroni’s development. The Córdoba-born youngster now looking to follow in the footsteps of a number of Argentine players such as Juan Sebastián Verón and Ariel Ortega at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
“Before I came to Samp, I knew about the Argentine players who’d been here before me, and they’ve all done so well at this club. It’s great that there’s a link to the Argentines, as Samp know what we can give and I just hope that I can follow in their footsteps.”
El gol del pibe Maroni en su debut como titular en Boca pic.twitter.com/MlSHyQy3s2
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A tricky playmaker with an eye for goal, Maroni operates in the spaces between the opposition midfield and defence and made a dazzling first start for Boca back in 2017 that thrust the teenager into the spotlight.
‘My game revolves around the attacking half of the pitch, so I always try to get into the box, provide assists and score goals. I can shoot from long range too and I enjoy being on the ball. I’ll give my all at this team,” explained Maroni.
Inevitable Juan Román Riquelme comparisons were born on the evening of Maroni’s nutmegging debut but the youngster always maintained another Argentine forward closer to home was his inspiration.
“I started out at Instituto, just like [Paulo] Dybala. He’s had a great career so far and I’d love to do the same. As a child, I watched a lot of Messi, who is my biggest idol. I love his playing style. I chose shirt number 21 because it was Dybala’s jersey when he first arrived in Italy for Palermo. I’m fine with any name, though. I know we’re capable of having a great season, so we’ll see what happens.”
Just like Dybala, Maroni came through Instituto’s youth ranks in his native Córdoba and while Dybala made his senior debut at seventeen breaking Marío Kempes’ record as the club’s youngest goal scorer, Maroni got his first call-up at sixteen.
A prodigious talent, San Lorenzo and Villarreal had already tried to prize him away when after only five appearances, Boca paid €600,000. A princely sum in Argentina for a relatively unproven young talent but one that has proved tremendous business regardless of whether Sampdoria make his transfer permanent.