As transfer fees continue to go through the roof, clubs are increasingly desperate to pluck the next big thing for a bargain price.
Young Uruguayan winger Facundo Pellistri is one name that has emerged in the past year, bursting on to the scene in his homeland for Penarol.
The 18-year-old has drawn admirers from Premier League sides Manchester City and Newcastle, as well as Spanish giants Real Madrid.
With the race to sign the young starlet hotting up, here’s all you need to know about the wide-man…
Coached by Uruguay Legend Diego Forlan
The youngster could have no better man to guide him at club level than compatriot and football legend Diego Forlan. The one-time Manchester United striker took over the reins at Penarol earlier this year and has been impressed by his young winger.
Forlan told Jogo Bonito, as quoted by Fox Sports: “Facundo Pellistri has very good potential. He has a lot to improve. He is growing and makes a difference. We know that it will be difficult to keep him for a long time. He has a lot of speed and is unbalanced.”
As a man who has done it all for club and country, Forlan will undoubtedly be able to nurture Pellistri’s precocious talent should he remain in Montevideo for a little while longer.
Has a Cheap Release Clause
In what will be music to the ears of interested parties, the winger reportedly has a buyout clause of just $12m, a bargain for such a talented player.
With the expected impact of coronavirus on the transfer market, clubs will be looking to secure cut-price deals like this to improve their playing squads without forking out astronomical fees.
He’s Not Just Coveted in Europe
While all the talk has been about a move away from South America, there has been notable interest from Argentine giants Boca Juniors.
Argentina icon and former teammate of Diego Forlan Juan Roman Riquelme is currently vice-president at La Bombonera and has Pellistri high on his list of priorities.
Ex-Villarreal star Riquelme told Teledoce: “He is young, talented, he hasn’t played that much but you can see he is a real rascal with the ball at his feet. And that is important. There aren’t many like him around, who have the courage to be so cheeky on the pitch. That is highly valuable.”
High praise indeed.
Manchester City Are Frontrunners for His Signature
If Pellistri is to take the plunge and move abroad, it is looking increasingly likely that it could be at Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola and co have reportedly offered the youngster a five-year deal at the Etihad, which would include a huge wage increase for the future star.
Although he is much coveted by the club, the Sky Blues would seek to loan out the winger to a La Liga club in order to allow him to acclimatise to European football.
The wide-man is known for being absolutely rapid and a real handful on the ball.
Despite having only made 25 senior appearances for the Manyas, Pellistri has already impressed many with his attacking ability down the right flank.
While he has only been a fixture of the first team for around nine months, he has already been handed the number ten shirt. A gesture to make him stay, perhaps?
A Product of Uruguay’s ‘Baby Futbol’ Scheme
Pellistri is one of countless young players who began their footballing lives playing their beloved sport under the ‘Baby Futbol’ scheme – for children aged four to 13.
This organised football is played in both Argentina and Uruguay and has helped shape the likes of Sergio Aguero and Luis Suarez.
While it appears like any other children’s football league around the world, ‘Baby Futbol’ is renowned for its intensity and aggression, and serves as a way of instilling that famed South American fighting spirit.