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Ex-Villarreal man Luciano Vietto on the move again

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Did we catch lightning in a bottle, or can he rebuild his career in Portugal?

Club Atletico de Madrid v Villarreal CF - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Ex-Villarreal player Luciano Vietto is on the move again, this time to Portugal. Atletico Madrid have sold 50% of his rights to Sporting Lisbon for €7.5million; I do not know if Villarreal gets a piece of that, but I would assume so.

Vietto has been an enigma since his 2014-15 season with Villarreal. You may remember we signed him from Racing Club for €5.5 million in August 2014; Liverpool were originally interested in him, but pulled out after his goal production declined from 13 in 2013 to 5 the following season.

Vietto flourished at Villarreal, announcing himself with two goals and an assist in a Europa League playoff match against Astana in late August. From then until mid-March, he had 20 goals and eight assists in all competitions, though the last couple of moths of the season he had some injury issues and didn’t add to his goal tally.

One of those goals was against Cholo Simeone’s side and it seemed clear that the mattress-makers wanted him before Villarreal could up his release clause, and so it was: Vietto joined Atleti for €20m.

That has not been a good investment. Vietto scored only three times (once in the league) for Atleti; they loaned him to Sevilla the following season, where he seemed to recover a bit (six league goals and four assists in 1300 minutes, 10 goals overall). But in 2017-18 he split his time between Atleti and Valencia, who took him on loan in the hope a reunion with Marcelino would benefit him. It didn’t, and this season he was loaned to Fulham in the EPL.

Vietto played less than 1000 minutes and scored a solitary goal for a team that finished next-to-last, and Atleti seem to have decided to part ways with him—sort of. A move to Portugal might not be bad for him—it’s a league that should give him some room to run—and he is still only 25 years old (turns 26 in December). But if you’d told me that a player who scored 12 league goals for Villarreal in one season would have only 10 over his next four, I would not have believed you.

Usually Villarreal inserts a sell-on clause into deals like Vietto’s so they get some cash from a future sale, so I assume that is true in this case. Who knows, if Vietto can shine again maybe Atleti (and Villarreal) can profit from the sale of the rest of his rights. But it’s not looking likely.