With two spectacular goals against PSV Eindhoven Thursday evening, Atlético forward Eduardo Salvio, currently on loan at Benfica, guaranteed his team a spot in the semi-finals of this year’s Europa League.
Considering the quality of his present club, the 20-year-old can realistically win the competition on back-to-back occasions. Although his contribution to our cup success last season was strictly limited to brief substitute appearances, he is now an integral part of the Benfica side that demolished PSV 4-1 on a fantastic European night.
To the Colchonero faithful, Salvio seems to have transformed overnight. But in reality, he has been on a steady climb since joining the Portuguese giants in August. Perhaps it’s even the crack we saw at Lanús who went missing after joining Atlético in the first transfer window of 2010; the kid García Pítarch was convinced it was worth splashing out the dough for.
The Salvio from last night bullied his opponents, took defenders on and dribbled through the Dutch side’s four-man defence like they were never there. He turned Erik Pieters, a full-on Dutch international, inside out only to slice through the next hurdle of PSV players unfazed by what was coming next, and always keeping an eye out for his teammates. The Argentine was, without a doubt, the big man for the Águias.
The contrast with his performances of last season is striking; the winger is almost unrecognizable. Coming in with an injury, Salvio failed to make his mark at Atlético and after poor performances in preseason he was shipped off to Portugal as there was simply no place for him. We willingly added a purchase option to his loan contract, knowing that we’d be lucky if we could recover a portion of the €11m spent on the promising talent only six months earlier.
At this point, Atleti might be regretting the €15m clause. Salvio, who recently received another call-up for Argentina’s national team, exploded midway through the current campaign, delivering assists and scoring ten goals, each one seemingly more beautiful than the last. Enrique Cerezo was quick to point to the arranged fee after Benfica indicated that they’re primary goal for next season was to make Toto’s stay a permanent one.
Meanwhile, Atlético fans are left to wonder what the club should do with the Argentine. Last summer’s non-European player spot conflict still exists, and the issue is certain to cause some headaches at the Calderón this off-season. Our directors will have to decide which three between Diego Costa, Elias, Godín, Miranda and Salvio will be allowed to stay.
Another obstacle Atleti officials will face for the following campaign is the excess of right-wingers on the team. At Lanús, the Argentine often played in a central position, but his development at Benfica would suggest his future lies on the right flank. In Reyes we have a versatile winger who could occupy any forward position, but the Andalusian is most effective at his current spot. Juanfran can strictly be used on the right, which not only limits the team’s but also his own options.
If we were to receive €15m for Salvio we would both, make a small profit and, gain much needed resources to strengthen other areas of the squad. It seems like a wise business decision, but knowing Atleti it could be one that comes back to haunt us.
Considering the pros and cons, what do you hope will happen with Eduardo Salvio?