Due to our very good relationship with Argentine giants River Plate we currently have several players on their books. We own 50% of the rights of 6 of their players, 3 from the first team : Matias Abelairas, Andres Rios and Gustavo Cabral and 3 youth team players Maximiliano Oliva,Damián Lizio and Gustavo Bou. Regular readers of this site will also know that we have the Uruguayan Robert Flores currently on loan there.
So I took the time this evening to watch River play Rosario Central. I saw three names of interest to Villarreal in the starting lineup : Flores, Abelairas and Rios. Gustavo Cabral was on the bench. The game looked like it was going to be a stalemate up until the 84th minute when River's Tuzzio headed in from a corner. Several minutes later the aforementioned Marcelo Rios wrapped up the points with a beautiful strike. Here's my thoughts on the players connected with El Submarino Amarillo.
- Robert Flores : I'll start with the man that is definitely going to feature for us next season. There is no guarantee that we will ever see one of the other 6 players as we only own half their rights. Indeed the deal is really being seen as an investment. Anyway back to Flores, he was positioned in the enganche position, in other words he was the playmaker, situated in behind the front two. I thought he did ok, showed some nice touches and was very enthusiastic. Worked hard and it's easy to see why the fans already like him. He has a big task at River : filling the void left by Ariel Ortega. His coach Diego Simeone has faith in him however and from what I've seen today I think he's well able.
- Andres Rios : One of the 'River 6' as I've heard them described, played up front alongside Salcedo and he looked very impressive. Good touch, good skills and strong on the ball. He tested the keeper with several shots from outside the box before finally getting it right and fizzing one into the bottom corner. I definitely would like to see him at El Madrigal, and even if he doesn't come then we are guaranteed half of what I'm sure will be a hefty transfer fee in the future. I'll link to his goal later as it's well worth a look.
- Matias Abelairas : El Pitu is the oldest of the players who we are involved with, he's a left sided midfielder with a sweet left foot and is well capable of spraying the ball around. Only established himself last season and his set pieces are key to Rivers game plan. He had a decent match, linked up well with Flores a few times. I don't see him in Villarreal in the long run. I rate Flores and Escudero higher and I don't see room for him in the team. He is good enough to move to Europe though so we will have to see what happens.
Overall I was impressed with the players and I hope to keep you updated with their progress throughout the year.
Edit - Both of the games goals : Link