In the sights of OM for next season, Thiago Almada is for the moment still the happiness of his training club, Velez Sarsfield. At just 20 years old (since April 26), the attacking midfielder is already considered the heir of Lionel Messi in Argentina. While waiting to know if the championship of France will discover it at the beginning of the school year, here are some elements to know about a player whose talent is also recognized, that his private life begins to be hectic.
A Velez pibe
Like Carlos Tevez before him and Fernando Gago, Thiago Almada was born in Fuerte Apache, a barrio very difficult from Ciudadela, a city adjacent to Buenos Aires. With a high crime rate, it is even said to be the most dangerous place in the whole country. “It’s my neighborhood, I have all my family and friends. I practically live there. If I don’t go for two days, it’s strange. I lived there all my childhood ”, evoked El Guayo. Already spotted by River, Boca, San Lorenzo and Argentinos Juniors, it was at Velez Sarsfield that he landed at the age of 5. He does all his classes there by being regularly upgraded. Aware of having a phenomenon, the Argentine club must face the facts. He must be played despite his very young age. It is Gabriel Heinze who takes care of it in August 2018. Entered during the match, the young crack will not leave the group. “The only thing that makes me think is that he’s only 17 years old. But with what he gives me here … After I say to myself: “How am I going to do not to make him play?” He’s so good, “ explained the then coach.
A shivering player, but who still lacks consistency
If he started in August 2018, it was in November that he scored his first professional goal. An unpredictable right-handed attacking midfielder, the dribbler likes to play with the ball, to stare at his opponent. Daring, impetuous, this fan of Riquelme also shows courage on the field, like a certain Carlos Tevez to whom he is quickly compared, more for the similar life course than for the style of play. During his first two seasons, he alternates between the sidelines and the starting lineup for honorable statistics (38 league games, 7 goals and 6 assists). He is only 17 years old. Heinze does not want to expose it too quickly, especially since certain tensions are already appearing in the summer of 2019 with his club. Able to play all positions behind the attacker, he has even already evolved to a more remote position. The potential of the player is enormous. In Argentina, there is talk of a future candidate for the Ballon d’Or but for that, he must be even more regular in a team of Velez of which he is in the process of becoming the boss, evidenced by his performances during the last Copa. Sudamericana.
Loved by Sampaoli for a long time
Too young to be selected by Jorge Sampaoli when he was in charge of the Albiceleste, Thiago Almada had nevertheless already caught the eye of the current OM coach. Before Argentina’s departure to Russia in the summer of 2018, the player had been called up to participate in training with the stars of the team. Taken aback, the press witnessed a rondo between Messi, Agüero, and Dybala among others, and in the midst of all these stars, a baby face and unknown to the general public. Aged 17, he is the only member of the U20 selection to have been invited to train with the best. “I learn a lot from them, I admire them. Every time they practice, I try to listen to them, to watch what they are doing. They behave very well with me. They greet me every time we see each other. And Javier Mascherano always asks me how I am, how I feel, ” reported the young man to La Nacion. Still not called up to the national team three years after this experience, the attacking midfielder should soon find Messi and the others at an upcoming Argentina rally.
He is already well known to the best clubs in the world
In his native country, he is already a star despite his very young age. And in the world of football, he is far from being a stranger. It has even been quite a few years since the young prodigy has been announced in the best clubs in the world. Today, it is OM who court him but the Phocéens are far from being the first to try their luck. Already in 2019, Manchester City and Manchester United had detailed reports on Thiago Almada and considered bringing him in the following summer. He finally extends his contract until 2023 with a release clause of € 25 million. Rumors were rife then. Last June, Velez sporting director Pablo Cavallero admitted that Barca made inquiries. “I know Barcelona have asked about Almada in the technical secretariat, but we know he is only 19 years old and must continue to mature. If an irresistible offer arrives for the player and the club, we will surely study it, “ he admits. In addition to OM, Atlético de Madrid also has an eye on the 20-year-old.
His weak point: his private life
Success at a high level does not always depend on talent. The entourage, the psychological profile and sometimes the uprooting are elements to take into account, especially in a young player. Thiago Almada has already made the front page of the news item. Last February, he was accused, along with his teammate Miguel Brizuela, of sexual assault on a 28-year-old young woman during a clandestine party allegedly held in a villa rented by Velez striker Juan Martin Lucero. A procedure is opened during which The Fortin announces the sidelining of his two players time for justice to do its job. The young cracker misses the start of the season before being finally reinstated a few days later. New elements would have allowed the two players to return to the team but the investigation is continuing. This case tarnishes the reputation of young Thiago Almada.