As the old saying goes, a leopard cannot change its spots. When applied to AS Roma’s transfer policy, this biblical proverb pertains to the club’s penchant for taking fliers on young South American talent, particularly attacking talent. While some workout splendidly (Erik Lamela, Marquinhos), there are hordes of bodies strewn across Europe’s lower leagues; the can’t miss kids from the new world who, like Nico Lopez or Kevin Mendez did, in fact, miss. But no matter who is running the show, be it Franco Baldini, Walter Sabatini or now Monchi, Roma cant resist casting their pole into these waters.
The latest name on Roma’s speculative roll of South Americans is (reportedly) Newell’s Old Boys attacking midfielder Nicolas Castro, a 17-year-old who profiles as your classic trequartista. According to Football Italia, Roma have beat Boca Juniors to Castro’s signature, landing him from NOB for a cool €600,000, which only accounts for 70% of his contract, with his childhood club 9 de Julio de Rafaela retaining 20%, with the remaining 10% going to, I don’t know, Narnia? They didn’t specify.
However, cruise on over to Sports Illustrated and you’ll see a slightly different take. While they don’t debate the financial figures of the deal, they’re not exactly sure it’s, you know, a deal.
El pibe Nicolás Castro ya está en Roma. El fin de semana viajaría un directivo para negociar la venta al club italiano. Pero ojo!! Benfica de Portugal también llamó ☎ al Parque y está interesado!!! pic.twitter.com/Bk6NZajpZD— Chino Odisio (@chinoodisio) February 7, 2018
That Tweet, which was embedded in the SI article, is from an Argentine journalist who claims that there is, in fact, no deal and that, though Castro is headed to Rome, Benfica may swoop in at the last minute to secure his signature.
So, what’s the big deal? Well, if you believe his coach from 9 de Julio, this kid is the next Riquelme:
Castro is similar to trequartisti like Juan Roman Riquelme and Ariel Ortega, because he tries something special and has great vision...I am not exaggerating, you don’t find players like Nico. He has remarkable quality, great dribbling skills, a lot of technique and can read the game well.
Odds are this kid won’t amount to much, let alone Riquelme reformed, but this is the type of game Roma must play—trust your scouts, cast a wide net and set these kids up for as much success as humanly possible.
And who knows, maybe Roma and Benfica have a handshake deal in which the Giallorossi will sign Castro and loan him out to Benfica, or maybe, just maybe, this kid is the next Riquelme and it will take some cloak and daggering to actually sign him.
Either way, we’ll be sure to keep tabs on this kid.