Vamos Los Pibes: Luciano Vietto
Name: Luciano Darío Vietto
Having made the switch to Villarreal in the summer, young Argentinian goal getter Luciano Vietto has taken to life in La Liga like a duck to water and has quickly become one of the hottest properties in Europe. With a number of top clubs already circling, el Submarino Amarillo will no doubt make a sizeable profit on the €6million they invested on Vietto. In the meantime, they will hope that their prize asset maintains his sensational form as they push for a top 6 finish and an extended run in the Europa League.
Who is Luciano Vietto?
Born in Balnearia, a small town situated by the Mar Chiquita Lake in the Province of Cordoba, Vietto’s footballing career suffered an early blow when he was released by Estudiantes as a sixteen-year-old. Turned down by Rosario Central, things looked as if they may reach a premature end until he was offered a lifeline by Racing.
Just a year later Vietto had signed a professional contract with the Buenos Aires giant and in October 2011 he was handed his debut by none other than Diego Simeone, coming on as sub against Lanus. However, it wasn’t until midway through 2012 that Vietto was able to make his mark and nail down his place as a regular in the Racing starting XI.
Manager Luis Zubeldia, himself just 31 at the time, put his faith in youth and was immediately rewarded as Vietto bagged a fantastic perfect hat-trick against San Martin de San Juan in front of the Academia faithful. Vietto would go on to hit the back of the net a further ten times, taking his tally to 13 in 32 appearances; a very respectable return for a teenager in their first full season.
Part of the Argentina U20 squad that disappointingly failed to qualify from the 2013 Sudamericano, Vietto was one of the few to impress, scoring two goals in four games, and he was heavily linked to a move to Liverpool – a long running rumour that has reared its head again since his switch to Spain.
Offers flooded in during the summer of 2013 but nevertheless Vietto remained in Avellaneda with high hopes ahead of his second season for Racing. However, off-field problems and a rotating cast of managers had a serious impact on the field and a more defensive set up starved the young striker of service, who only managed 5 goals in 35 appearances. Vietto’s progress stalled and doubts surfaced. Was this a case of second season syndrome or just a momentarily blip? Luckily it was proven to be the latter and anyone who had watched him regularly over the past two years could attest to the considerable skill Vietto possessed.
This no doubt contributed to Villarreal being able to purchase Vietto at a cut price but the offer of first team football was obviously a big draw. Having known what it was like to be out in the cold, it speaks highly of Vietto’s maturity despite his tender years.
The decision has already paid dividends for both parties. 19 goals in all competitions from 38 appearances, only 23 of which as a starter, has seen Vietto already better the number of goals he scored back in Argentina in roughly half the amount of games. A big move and a national team call up can’t be far off as Vietto looks to continue on his meteoric rise to prominence.
Best suited as a second striker, Vietto’s movement, technique and clinical finishing are hallmarks of his game. Though he is certainly quick, he by no means has blistering pace, but as the old adage goes the first two yards are in your head and Vietto’s intelligence and off the ball movement often allow him to steal a march on defenders or drift into space to leave him with a simple finish. Able to drop deep and link play, he has forged a great understanding with the likes of Denis Cheryshev and Moi Gomez and profited from their pin point crosses.
However, Vietto is not simply a fox in the box. His goal against Atletico Madrid demonstrated as much as he stepped past Diego Godin as if he wasn’t there and finished with aplomb to inflict a rare home defeat for his old mentor Cholo Simeone. Creativity, decent dribbling, composure in front of goal and work rate are all other admirable traits of the level-headed youngster.
At 1.73m his aerial ability is understandably not his strongest attribute, nor is his hold up play, but he can finish well with his head when necessary. He has inevitably drawn comparisons with his fellow diminutive compatriot Sergio Aguero but perhaps Javier Saviola is a more apt reference point.
Those in the know say…
“Vietto is a great player who is playing exceptionally well for us at the moment. His adaptation and performances have been far better than we expected. You always have to be sensible with young players, but it’s obvious that he has plenty more room to develop.”
“He is fast, makes smart moves and shoots the ball well with both feet,”
“Vietto is different. He has the face of a young boy but he does amazing things on the pitch.”
How far can he go?
Vietto has tremendous potential and could be turning out for one of Europe’s top clubs as soon as next season. There will be no shortage of offers come the summer and it would be hard for Villarreal to turn down such a large sum but Vietto needs to make sure that he continues to get regular first team football. Despite his impressive start to life in Europe he is still not a guaranteed starter and perhaps one more season to properly establish himself as a star at the Madrigal would be best for his development.
It’ll be a case of when, not if, the big money move arrives and Vietto certainly seems ready to step up to the next level. A full international debut should be on the cards in the near future and he could even force his way into the reckoning for Tata Martino’s Copa America squad. The future certainly looks bright for the boy from Balnearia.