Hat-tip to Juan Mesa (follow him on Twitter: @juanmapu), to whose vigilance we owe the first glance at this rumor: the New York Red Bulls have picked up Argentine winger Gonzalo Veron from San Lorenzo. If it seems like only yesterday that Ali Curtis was suggesting he was on course to sign another player for RBNY, it's because it was only yesterday that he said that - and it would seem the promised reinforcement he alluded to was not just a new forward option for NYRB II.
News out of Argentina suggests the deal was confirmed today (July 29): TyCSports.com reports that San Lorenzo head coach Edgar Bauza was asked to hold Veron out of preparations for the team's Copa Euroamericana match against Malaga, scheduled for July 30. Instead, it is reported Veron is the subject of a $2.2 million transfer to RBNY. Further support for TyCSports.com's reporting comes from Dan Covello, who scoured San Lorenzo's press releases and noted Veron was mentioned as part of the squad likely to face Malaga in an article posted on the club's website on July 28 - and was missing from the squad announced for the match on July 29.
Thanks for that, Dan.
And the news was swiftly greeted as all-but-confirmed by several outlets and observers:
Reportedly the New York Red Bulls have acquired Argentine winger Gonzalo Veron from San Lorenzo - was part of 2014 Libertadores winning team
— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) July 29, 2015
Gonzalo Veron se ira a los Red Bull de New York por algo mas de 2 millones de dolares, San Lorenzo tiene el 90% el 10 % es de Sp Italiano
— Diego Arvilly (@DiegoArvilly) July 29, 2015
All that is left, it would appear, is for RBNY to confirm the news and parade Veron in red-and-white.
Or not: the player put the brakes on the chatter about his impending departure for MLS in an interview with local press. Per Cicleon de Boedo (and Google Translate), he said:
I have my visa a day but I have no idea of any interest. I have always said I am happy in San Lorenzo.
So maybe everything isn't quite done and dusted just yet.
And who is Gonzalo Veron? He is a 25-year-old attacking player, traditionally regarded as a winger, who has been with San Lorenzo since 2012. In that time, he has assisted the club to the 2013 Inicial title in the Argentine Primera Division, and the 2014 Copa Libertadores. He was also part of the San Lorenzo team that lost the 2014 Club World Cup final to Real Madrid and the squad that lost the 2015 Recopa Sudamericana to River Plate.
What he has not been for much of his time with San Lorenzo is a regular starter. His most recent appearance for his club was as an 88th-minute substitute on July 26 in a 1-1 draw with Godoy Cruz. According to Soccerway.com's statistics, he's been an unused sub more often this year (13 times) than he's had league appearances (eight). His only goal of 2015 was in the Copa Argentina in May. Since joining San Lorenzo, he has registered double-digit starts in a league season just once and has never logged 1,000 competitive league minutes in a season for the club. (For comparison, 39-year-old center back Mario Yepes has 1,214 league minutes for San Lorenzo so far in 2015; Veron has 203.)
So Veron is something of a super-sub, albeit at a top-level Argentine club that has been playing some very good soccer over the past few years.
His highlight reel offers some reason to be optimistic: he looks the sort of player who might slot in anywhere along the "3" in Jesse Marsch's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
And he is young enough that the move to MLS could still be the one which makes his name. Fabian Espindola was a lightly-used attacking player when he made his move to Real Salt Lake in 2007; the current RBNY squad is full of players who arrived with modest career records, many of whom have confounded expectations (hi, Mike Grella, Lloyd Sam and Damien Perrinelle - looking forward to seeing you play again).
If the reported transfer fee - $2.2 million - is accurate, Veron will land at RBNY as a Designated Player (the fee will be treated as part of his salary by the league's accounting) and with a little more pressure to perform immediately than greeted some of his new teammates on their arrival in MLS. But if the Red Bulls are serious about becoming a club that makes players' reputations (hi, Kemar - how're the legs after Gold Cup?), then Veron represents exactly the sort of signing to which fans should rapidly become accustomed. They won't all pan out, but those that do will make their names as New York Red Bulls.