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Who is Southampton target Luciano Vietto?

Thursday 20th July 2017
Southampton is reportedly interested in Atletico Madrid striker, Luciano Vietto. New boss, Mauricio Pellegrino, is understood to be an ardent fan since both were in the Argentine Primera Division.

While Pellegrino was learning the managerial ropes at Estudiantes, Vietto, a promising teen, was taking the country's top flight by storm. Despite choosing distinct paths to the top, it seems the pair could finally be united after five years, in the last place they'd expect, the prestigious Premier League.

Here's what we know about the 23-year-old.

Humble beginnings

Vietto was born in Balneario, a small town in Cordoba, central Argentina. In a country obsessed with football, his talent was spotted at a very tender age by Independiente Balnearia. He joined his hometown club at seven and played there for eight years.

Exploits at Racing Club

At 15, Vietto moved to top Argentine side, Estudiantes, but was released two years later. Just when his professional football dream appeared to be slipping away, the youngster was rescued by Racing Club de Avelleneda, in 2010.

It was there Vietto first came in contact with Diego Simeone. The future Atleti boss showed faith in the youngster. Over the next three years, Vietto rewarded Simeone's faith with impressive performances for Racing. His good work led to a five-year contract with Spanish club Villareal. 

Spanish sojourn

Upon arriving in La Liga, Vietto immediately became a deadly weapon for the Yellow Submarine. Twelve goals in 32 games during the 2014/15 season made him La Liga's highest scoring U23. Even more impressive was the fact he notched five coming off the bench. It was only a matter of time before the big clubs come calling.

Reunion with Simeone

And that happened sooner than expected. Simeone turned to his young compatriot when Mario Mandzukic left the Rojiblancos for Juventus. Their reunion had all the makings of a classic fairytale due to their earlier successes together. Yet shockingly, the Argentine forward failed to make an impact at the Vicente Calderón, scoring just one league goal.
A loan move to Sevilla revived his crumbling stock. Notching 14 goals while lacing five more for his teammates, Vietto proved he could still deliver the goods in just 21 starts. If he simply didn't fit Simeone's refined system, a return to Atleti may be totally off the 23-year-old's mind. Another loan deal may be his best option.

What he brings to the table

Vietto is well-known for his goalscoring prowess but it's his savvy to drop deep or play as a poacher that has really stood out.

He scores goals though he's not a natural-born scorer. I see him as very similar to David Villa at the beginning of his career, although without as much goal threat, but with the ability to work for the team, float between the lines and link up with the midfield and attack. --Simeone in Marca.

Vietto is also supremely mobile. Standing 5' 8”, his relatively low centre of gravity allows him to maximises his high acceleration, agility, and top speed to wriggle out of narrow spaces.

While the Saints are spoiled for choice up front, with Charlie Austin, Manolo Gabbiadini, Shane Long and Sam Gallagher comprising a well-stocked attack. Add Dušan Tadić, Sofiane Boufal and Nathan Redmond to the mix, there are already seven players jostling for two slots. Several are veterans, however, whereas So'ton has a reputation for developing young talent. Vietto's youth, exposure, and pedigree may represent more value to the south coast club than the rest.
Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 

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