Name: Franco Cervi
Club: Rosario Central
Date of birth: 26th May 1994
Position: Attacking midfield
Who is he?
Approaching the halfway mark of the 2015 Argentine Primera season perhaps the breakthrough star so far has been Rosario Central’s talented playmaker Franco Cervi. The 21-year-old has seamlessly stepped up to the first team in spite of his tender age and in addition to helping Central to a surprising title challenge, the youngster looks bound for bigger things.
Rosario’s reputation as a hotbed for Argentine footballing talent is well justified after producing none other than Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Mauro Icardi and Ezequiel Garay to name a few. Much like Barcelona’s four-time world player of the year, Franco Cervi is a pint-sized attacker but unlike Argentina’s captain has forced his way up through his home club’s youth system into the first team before hopefully making the step-up to Europe.
Cervi was born just north of Rosario in the town of San Lorenzo but joined the academy of Rosario Central at the age of six and has since then represented the club at every level. However, it was with the reserves under the leadership of Hugo Galloni in 2013 that ‘Chucky’ really made a name for himself within the club.
Five goals in fifteen reserve team appearances led to Miguel Angel Russo giving the 20-year-old his first team debut at the end of the 2014 Torneo Transicion. Cervi only enjoyed a handful of outings but impressed and even in defeat to champions Racing, the diminutive attacker stood out.
When club legend Eduardo Coudet took over as manager at the start of 2015 he too had obviously taken note and immediately Cervi was named as one of his key starting eleven. This faith was immediately repaid in the first match of the season when the youngster lobbed Racing goalkeeper, Sabastian Saja from 30 yards to give Central a shock away victory over the defending champions.
Cervi has maintained this level of performance and in tandem with centre-forward Marco Ruben provided a constant goal threat as Central went 13 matches unbeaten. This has seen Central mount a title challenge that few could have predicted and if they are to carry this through to the second half of the season then they will need to keep hold of Chucky.
What type of player is he?
Thanks to the likes of Messi and Maradona, Cervi is perhaps the archetypal Argentine footballer: tiny in stature, but with lightening acceleration and the ability to skip past defenders given their low centre of gravity.
This comparison serves only to highlight Cervi’s size in contrast with his natural abilities, as few players can even aspire to the level of the two Argentine greats mentioned let alone be justifiably compared. That aside, Cervi is a talented attacker able to operate across a 4-3-3, comfortable out wide or behind a central striker in a classic number 10 role. In addition to his pace and dribbling ability, Cervi has a good eye for a pass and represents a goal threat of his own having already notched four goals and four assists in 2015.
Either alongside or just behind the main striker, Cervi has struck up a good partnership with the more experienced Marco Ruben and the well-travelled frontman has reaped the rewards as he leads the way in the scoring charts.
Additionally, in spite of his slight build, the 21-year-old is not easily bullied out of matches and also carries out his defensive duties willing to press high up the pitch and win the ball back.
If being just 21 years of age and abundantly talented was not enough to make him a very attractive proposition to European suitors, the fact that Cervi also possesses an Italian passport makes him an ideal transfer target for those clubs hoping to pick up the next South American star for a minimal fee.
Inter Milan and Tottenham have already been attributed with an interest and scouts have apparently been keeping a close eye on the youngster ahead of a touted 3 million Pound move.
Cervi is under contract with Central until the end of 2016 and so is not in any rush to leave his hometown club. With only a fraction over six months experience at first team level it is vital that the player does not now see his development halted by making an ill-advised career move.
As Luciano Vietto has proved this season with Villarreal the right move can see a player flourish, but for every one Vietto there are hundreds of those who fail to live up to expectation. Cervi might be better suited remaining with Central for 2015 to see if they can lift a first Primera title in nearly thirty years.
Written by Peter Coates
Follow Peter on Twitter @golazoargentino
You can check out more of his excellent work on Argentinian football through his website, Golazo Argentino
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