Amongst all the smoke about which 37 strikers we might sign and Griezmann joining 6 different teams in 3 different countries, one signing Atlético made last summer flew under the radar.
A young seventeen year old landed in Madrid-Barajas airport and signed his first European contract.
Said signing was Uruguayan Nicolás Schiappacasse – a name not particularly known in European football. To be honest, it is a name that most of us even don’t even know how to begin to pronounce.
Luckily, dear readers, I have done that research for you. (DISCLAIMER: This phonetic example is by no means professional, but it helped me remember so I thought I would share) S-chia-pa-kas-eh, say that three times fast.
From now on, for the sake of brevity, I will refer to Schiappacasse as “Nico” because lets be honest, I am not writing that name more times than I have to.
Before we get onto the main topic at hand, lets talk about a little Atlético history.
It is not a secret that Atlético has always been a buy and sell club. At some point our best players always leave. It is a way of life us fans have come accustomed to. Luckily, however, we always find a solution. We always fill the gap left void by a summer or winter departure.
When David De Gea signed for Manchester United we thought that we were doomed. Then out of know where we were loaned an up and coming goalie by the name of Thibaut Courtois. Who, by the way, nearly broke all Atlético goal-keeping records. When he wanted to go back to Chelsea, we signed not only one but two quality keepers in the likes of Miguel Ángel Moyà, the Majorcan (yes that is a word) shot stopper and Jan Oblak the Slovenian “Wonder kid”.
More popularly however, we are know for also replacing our strikers when they all decide to leave, and trust us, THEY. ALL. LEAVE. From: Torres, Diego Forlán, and Kun Agüero to Falcao, Adrián, López and Diego Costa, etc. We always, well almost always, by some act of Soccer magic find a way to fill the space.
Now we face not only one but two “Elephants” in the room. The first being the obvious, well what about Mario Mandžukić, Luciano Vietto, Jackson Martínez and Kévin Gameiro?
All have been given their fair share of constructive criticism and may not have given the same stats that we have come accustomed to over the years. But for Mario, it was down to “he did not fit Simeone’s system or style. (or so they say, but lets give the man a break, he scored 20 goals and had 5 assist in all compitions) For the latter, well, the season is barely half way over so we will give him the benefit of the doubt.
Vietto and Jackson were the first true testaments that, something was just not right. No matter what those two did they could not find the back of the net on any consistent basis.
The second “Elephant” is that we are on a transfer ban. Not much more needed to be said about that.
So what is Atlético to do when we are so accustomed to fixing our on and off pitch problems buy buying someone/something new?
That question has left a lot of us very worried, that much is true. Nevertheless, unless the ban gets lifted, we only have one option; which is make due with what we have.
Amongst the negativity surrounding the ban we have to accept one fact. Futbolisticly speaking, this is the best Atlético team a lot of us have seen in a very long time. Some may even argue, the best team we have ever had.
This is where Nico comes into play. He is one amongst a plethora of young talents Atlético has in its grasp. Like most of the young players in the Atlético pool right now, Nico looks to have a bright future ahead of him.
But what makes Nico so different from the rest? Well for one he is very young (having just turned 18) but has already shown some life in high-level professional Soccer.
Back in his home country Nico had 2 seasons of first team soccer under his belt with his native team River Plate (not to be mistaken with Club Atlético River Plate, in Argentina).
In his two seasons he bagged 4 goals and 2 assist as a left winger. That doesn’t seem like much but lets remember he was not even 18 years old at this point and this is a league where scoring 30+ goals like we are accustomed to is not as normal.
Interestingly enough, since his arrival to Madrid he has been playing with the Atlético Madrid B team, which plays it’s soccer in Spain’s Tercera División (he also plays in the UEFA Youth League team).
Some may argue that this has been a step down in his career, time will tell. The truth of the matter though is that he is in Europe now and his doors are open.
His most notable moment so far in a red and white jersey was his goal against Bayern Munich’s Under 19 side. Which was not only enough to qualify Atlético’s Youth league to the next round but also eliminate the Germans youth squad on their home turf.
Nico has picked up form again and in the past couple of months, scoring three goals for his Uruguayan U20 side. His most recent came against Colombia in the aforementioned tournament.
Now I am not one that likes to say “so and so” reminds me of “so and so” player. However, to paint a picture here and from what little is available of his play style he seems, at least to me, a mixture of Roberto Firmino and Simão Sabrosa. That is to say, a dribble first player with a knack for scoring goals. Not a true, out and out Striker, but a goal scorer nonetheless.
Nico stands tall for a South American soccer player at nearly 6ft (1.80m). He favors his right foot but can shoot with both feet (oddly enough most of his goals on tape have come with his left). It is normal to see him start on a wing, but he finds himself trailing back to the midfield to conduct play as well.
He shows signs of good vision, especially in the opposing teams half. Which is interesting because, at least on paper his skill set and play style might fit that of a CAM role. A role that Atlético has been desperately looking to fill for a long time.
Schiappacasse will not become a star over night that much is true. But Atlético not only buys its players for the now, but also for the potential. Nico has the right attributes to become an interesting player for Atlético, and now with the transfer ban, it might be his chance to work his way up into the first team.
This is a task hat will by no means come easy, especially given his in house competition. Nonetheless any manager will tell you, positive competition amongst the players is always a coach’s dream.
In all probability, especially given his age and his want to play first team football, he will be loaned out to another club in Spain or Europe.
This option to be honest would be great for the youngster. This opportunity will not only get him on the pitch but get him accustomed to the highest level of European football.
Time will tell, as it always does, with what will happen with the young Uruguayan’s future. For now it looks, bright a diamond in the rough, a small opportunity for a young player to create a name for himself on this Atlético team.
Atléticos, what do you expect from Nicolás Schiappaccasse?