PSG have opened talks with Rosario Central. And they do want Giovani Lo Celso. But as far as that mooted €15 million bid being lodged – a record for a Central player – we’ve all jumped the gun.
“We just listened to what he came to tell us, but there was no formal offer, we have not talked about figures. An offer of €15 million? No, nothing was offered,” Central vice-president Ricardo Carloni said of last week’s meeting with a PSG rep.
“Besides, there was no concrete or formal offer. We have not talked about figures. It was just a meeting during which this person came to inform us that PSG is following him and they’re interested. For now, we listen to everyone.”
Just 19 and with less than 30 first team games under his belt, Lo Celso is fast emerging as the hottest transfer property in South America. A natural No 10 with a wand of a left foot, despite his inexperience, Lo Celso has been made Central’s midfield general by coach Eduardo Coudet this season, drawing comparisons with local heroes Angel di Maria and Lionel Messi.
At Man United, they’ve been following Lo Celso ever since Coudet gave him his break midway through last year. And Man City? Well, they’ve gone a step further…
Tribalfootball.com was informed last week that an informal bid was made for Lo Celso at the turn of the year. The City representative was not connected to sports director Txiki Begiristain’s football department, but the ground was tested. Would €8 million be enough for Lo Celso? No chance, was Central’s reply.
Raul Broglia, the Central president, confirmed contact with City – and United – just this week.
“We talk with PSG as we have done with AS Roma, Juventus, the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea. We are only at the stage of dialogue, there has not been any formal offer from PSG. This should move on next week,” said Broglia. Are you watching Manchester?
Broglia knows they have something special on their hands. It’s crept up on the European press, but Central have been batting away bids for Lo Celso for over six months.
During their negotiations for Ezequiel Ponce, Roma had a €7 million offer for Lo Celso turned down last summer. They followed that up with an €8 million bid, but drew the same response. City have made their enquiry and now PSG have come forward. Meanwhile, in the background, along with those clubs mentioned by Broglia, are Juventus and Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid. Indeed, Simeone has made a personal check on Lo Celso during his regular return trips to his homeland.
But even the €15 million due to arrive from PSG may not be enough. And it’s not necessarily about the cash on offer.
Having sold Franco Cervi to Benfica, Broglia and his board know they’ll be risking a huge backlash from fans if they were to lose Lo Celso inside the same season.
We sold Cervi knowing that we had Lo Celso behind. Now we don’t have anyone to take that position and that is why we are in no hurry,” stated Broglia.
“Of course in football, there are figures that cannot be rejected but it has to be a very tempting offer to sit down and negotiate. Our intention is that Lo Celso continues playing at Central for some time.”
Central director Luciano Cefaratti went further, insisting Lo Celso and his family won’t abandon the club anytime soon.
“We have talked to his Dad and our intention is he continues; he will play in the Copa Libertadores and the league for Central,” said Cefaratti.
“He has attracted the attention of several teams, but beyond the proposals that we may have or not for him, Giovani’s our player and our fans will continue to be able to enjoy him.”
For the player, he seems in complete agreement.
“I’m really enjoying this moment, it is what I always dreamed of,” says Lo Celso, who is always quick to thank coach ‘Chacho’ Coudet for his backing. “All I am doing is based on the trust and support of the coaching staff and my teammates.”
He adds: “I am grateful to Chacho, for recognising me before Cervi’s departure. Chacho is a great motivator and was an outstanding player. I’m seeing the fruits of my hard work.
“With the sale of Franco I can open a door…”
So everyone’s on the same page. Cervi leaves. Lo Celso steps in. And Broglia fends off PSG, City and United… but Chacho isn’t so sure.
“Paris? “I see him very calm, very quiet,” says the coach. “Training as he has always done. It pleases me to see the tranquility and maturity with which he is handled himself in such a situation.
“But we know he’s drawing attention.”
So when would be the best time for his protégé to leave Central?
“I will not get into those things,” replies Chacho. “They are things that the management of the club must decide with the player and with those carrying his interests.
“I have no choice in that.”
Choice? That’s one thing Rosario’s new favourite son is not short of ahead of Europe’s summer transfer window.
Contributed by Chris Beattie of TribalFootball.com