The threat of Manchester City snapping up another of their young talents loomed over the recent transfer window but unlike the controversial transfer of Benjamín Garré in 2016, Vélez Sarsfield were able to keep hold of Thiago Almada and were pleased to finally announce on Friday that the 18-year-old has signed a new deal until June 2023.
One of the brightest talents in Argentina, Almada was strongly linked with a move away from Liniers and while that may well still happen in the not too distant future, Vélez have secured a contract that will at least see the club recompensed.
A four-year deal that has a €19 million release clause if triggered before January 31st 2020, an increased €22 million clause up until August 31st 2020 and then a final figure of €25 million for the remainder of the youngster’s contract represents a huge sum for any Argentine club.
Weeks of negotiations and reports of Almada’s agent travelling to Europe had rightly concerned Vélez, given that academy product Garré was lured away by Man City in a deal that ultimately went to the court of arbitration for sport.
While the loss of 16-year-old Garré stung, the possibility of Almada leaving at a knockdown price would have been disastrous. The 18-year-old is not only a future national team star but a central figure in Gabriel Heinze’s first team plans after a string of exciting displays over the past year.
✍🏻 En horas de mediodía, Thiago Almada renovó su vínculo con #Vélez por los próximos 4 años. El acuerdo, celebrado en la presidencia del Club, se extiende hasta el 30 de junio de 2023. pic.twitter.com/84gDZ6VzQ4
Heinze spoke of his pleasure at the news during the Vélez coach’s press conference ahead of Monday evening’s Superliga fixture with Atlético Tucumán.
Almada has started only one match so far this season as the contract negotiations rumbled on and the teenager was pleased to have put all this behind him.
“I was very eager to sign with this club that gave me everything, developed me as a player and as a person and also gave me my professional debut,” Almada told the Vélez official website.
Joined by his father Diego and mother Lorena, the forward who hails from the same tough neighbourhood as Carlos Tevez added, “they [my parents] gave everything for me to get here. My family and I are very happy.”
Now Almada can look to build on what has been a sensational start to his professional career. His tally of four goals in 25 appearances do not do justice to what have been the type of performances that have had many suggesting the 18-year-old could go all the way to the very top.
“It was a complicated few weeks, I just wanted to train and play but it was difficult so thank god everything is settled,” Almada explained.
“Now I will continue to train and give everything for this shirt.”
That will certainly come as a huge boost to Heinze and Vélez with Almada able to play a number of roles across the attack whether from wide areas, in behind a striker or even as a false nine. Blessed with terrific technique, dribbling ability, a burst of pace and an eye for goal, Almada’s three goals and two assists during the second half of last season made scouts sit up and take note.
Not that the meteoric rise of the kid from Fuerte Apache came as a complete surprise to many given Almada’s displays at youth level for club and country. His somewhat surprise omission from Fernando Batista’s under-20 World Cup squad earlier this year meant that an opportunity to showcase this talent to a wider audience was missed but only 18 in April, there is plenty of time for Almada.
With all this now behind him, Almada will be one to watch in the Superliga this season.