South American Signings To Watch 2011/12Posted: August 4, 2011
Diego Buonanotte – Malaga
If ‘the dwarf’ can maintain the level of his pre-season performances then there seems little doubt that Malaga will have got an absolute steal in signing little Diego for an estimated €3million. A supremely talented playmaker who is a real example of a player who just needed a change of scenery.
Despite many happy times at River, winning player of the year as well as a league title, the last few years at his boyhood club were severely affected by a marked change in the fans feelings towards him and a well-documented off-the-field incident – being charged with triple man-slaughter before the charges were thrown out by a judge.
He was left out of River’s last few games as they tried to salvage their Primera status and watched helplessly as manager JJ Lopez chose to throw Mauro Diaz (who hadn’t played since October) on as a last resort, as Buonanotte didn’t make the bench .
Though hurt by how things ended at the club he supported, he holds no bitter feelings – writing off a debt that the club owed him on the condition it was invested in youth. River’s loss is Malaga’s gain, and this fresh start could propel ‘el enano’ to the top of the European game that he was tipped for as a teenager.
Maxi Moralez – Atalanta
Another diminutive playmaker I know, but that’s kind of what Argentina does best, Maxi has been simply marvellous in the last few seasons for Velez as they’ve been the best club in the country by a distance. A dazzling dribbler with the ability to thread barely credible through balls, the unfashionable club from Bergamo will be getting a tremendous new recruit.
Unfortunately, it may not be the best place for Maxi to show off his skills… Atalanta are embroiled in a betting scandal with playmaker Cristiano Doni at the heart of it. This could lead to a points deduction and/or a ban for the Atalanta legend but this will shove Moralez into the spotlight as the team’s leading playmaker and to get the best out of him, it will be vital that Atalanta play him in the ‘trequartista’ role, and don’t shunt him wide – as he was in his unsuccessful spell with FC Moscow.
Still young enough to crack Europe, and undoubtedly with the talent to do so, the only worry over this transfer is that the situation he will be placed in is not conducive to attacking play. Only time will tell…
Alex Sandro – Porto
The Porto business of buying emerging players and selling them on has proved successful for many years now, and Alex Sandro could well be the next Brazilian to make a name for himself at the Dragao. A flying wing-back in the stereotypical Brazilian mould, he proved himself with a marvellous season at Santos, where he was one of the vital cogs in the Copa Libertadores-winning side.
Still just 20 years old, it looks likely that he will start as back-up to Copa America winner Alvaro Pereira. However, the very fact that they’ve brought him over immediately, and not arranged the transfer for 2012 as with Santos team-mate Danilo, suggests he could make his mark on the first team this season.
With Champions League football, Alex Sandro will be playing in the biggest shop window of them all, although playing in the World Cup 2014 in Brazil is his main ambition at current.