Matías Vargas completes €10.5 million transfer to Espanyol

Linked with a move away from Liniers for well over a year, Vélez Sarsfield playmaker Matías Vargas finally made the jump to Europe on Sunday with Spanish club Espanyol agreeing a €10.5 million transfer.

Vélez had been holding out for a figure close to Vargas’ release clause of €12 million and despite Boca Juniors being linked with a move, an overseas switch was always preferred with Espanyol eventually winning the race.

Terms between the two clubs and the player agreed, the 22-year-old flew on Sunday with the Blanquiazules confirming the transfer on their official Twitter. Vargas left only to complete his medical and put pen to paper on a contract that will run until June 2024 with the player’s presentation already scheduled for Wednesday at 5pm.

While Vargas’ €12 million release clause always made him an alluring target for European clubs, Espanyol have been quick to safeguard their new asset and a reported €50 million clause will be inserted in Monito’s five-year deal.

Despite there being no shortage of young talent still coming through at Vélez with the likes of Thiago Almada and Alvaro Barreal likely to play a greater first team role this season, the loss of Vargas will be felt.

Five goals and four assists last season as Vélez finished sixth following up a season in which Vargas was second only to Cristian Pavón in top flight assists illustrate just how important the academy star has been to Gabriel Heinze.

Having been at the club from the age of thirteen, Vargas established himself as one of the Superliga’s star performers over the past 18 months and was rewarded with an Argentina debut against Guatemala last September.

Cutting in from his starting position on the left, Vargas’ dribbling ability, right-footed bending shots and weighted through balls were a key feature of Vélez’s attack during a period of relative success for the club and while the comparisons to Eden Hazard might have been premature, there are certainly similarities in style of play to the Belgian.

Espanyol appear to be an ideal next step for a player of Vargas’ ability with the Barcelona club providing a platform for the 22-year-old to gain experience within a progressive club looking to build on an impressive seventh-placed finish last season.

As Argentina continue to rebuild with an eye on the 2022 World Cup, Vargas will be hoping that his taste of international football at the end of 2018 is only the beginning.

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