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Where are they now? Former Villarreal star Luciano Vietto

A look at the career of a former Yellows frontman

FBL-EUR-C3-VILLARREAL-SEVILLA
Vietto enjoyed a successful spell with Villarreal
Photo credit should read JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

With out season halted, I thought why not look back at some players who made a splash for Villarreal before fading away.

Luciano Vietto did have a great season, even if only one, at the club before leaving in what was one of the biggest fees Villarreal had received, only being surpassed by the sale of Santi Cazorla to Málaga (24 million euros in the 2011/12 season) and Diego Forlán to Atlético de Madrid (21 million euros in the 2007/08 season).

He was sold to Atlético de Madrid for 20 million euros in the 2015/16 season.

Born and raised in a small town in Argentina called Balnearia, he started his career with local club Independiente Balnearia before moving on to Estudiantes.

After being cut, he joined Racing Club where he managed to get his professional start, coached by Diego Simeone, being looked upon as a promising star.

His 2012/13 season was one for the books, with him establishing a partnership with the other two promising prospects of Racing: Rodrigo De Paul and Bruno Zuculini, and being looked at by some of the biggest clubs in Europe.

Paris Saint Germain v Club Atletico de Madrid - International Champions Cup 2018
Vietto couldn’t cut it with Atleti
Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images for ICC

After the 2013/14, the partnership was ended, as all of the players left for Europe. Zuculini signed with Manchester City, De Paul decided to settle in Valencia and Vietto arrived north of Valencia, to Villarreal.

His season with Villarreal was great. He had a great season overall, scoring a career-high 20 goals in the season (12 in LaLiga and 8 in the Europa League), managing to become the starter for the team at the end of the season.

This seemed like the beginning of a new star in the football world, and it was being seen as quite the task to keephim, and indeed it was, with Atlético de Madrid deciding to put forward 20 million to sign him.

With Atleti, while he started strong, as time went on, he didn’t manage to show his fee value, and started a string of loans with Atleti looking to either see him grow as a player or recover their investment.

With all the loans, he seemed to follow a pattern, starting great and fading as the season went on. It happened with Sevilla before entering a huge dry spell. His second loan, this time to Valencia in January 2018, saw him breaking the dry spell on his second match with the chés, as he had gone the whole 2017 without scoring.

After Valencia, he was loaned to Fulham where he ended in The XI Worst, the players considered to have been a flop during the season.

As Atleti had a dispute over a player, Gelson Martins, with Sporting Portugal, to settle it, Vietto was offered as a way of getting to end the dispute the best they could.

He went to Sporting CP for a reported fee of 7.5 million, while Atleti solved the dispute over Gelson by paying 22.5 million. In Portugal, he played some of his best football as he managed to become a starter again, but he was still far from his best moments with Villarreal.

From Portugal, he was sold to Al-Hilal, a Saudi club from Riyadh, for a reported fee of 3.5 million. In Saudi Arabia, he is more of a starter for his club, and also when he was loaned out in the 2021/22 season to city rivals Al-Shabab, but his goal production is still below what he was doing in Europe.

At 28 years old, he seems to have faded out of the top European and South American leagues.

A curious case, as his injury history is quite small, having the most time out being 41 days for gastric problems when playing with Sevilla. And what about his former partners?

De Paul is currently playing with Atlético Madrid with some success, and Zuculini is a good asset for River Plate after an unsuccesful career in Europe.