Argentine defender Santiago Vergini looks set to become Gus Poyet’s second signing of the transfer window, a player he had been scouting for a sometime including whilst managing Brighton. Few will have heard a great deal about the 25 year-old, so we dug up one or two facts as well as asking a man who most certainly does know all about him.
Interestingly this wouldn’t Vergini’s first spell in Europe. After starting his professional career in Paraguay with Olimpia, he made a loan move to then Lega Pro 1 (the third tier of Italian football) club Hellas Verona. Still 22 and learning his trade, the 6ft 3 defender helped Verona achieve promotion to Serie B.
Last season, he was part of an Estudiantes team who boasted the best defensive record in the Argentina Primera Division, but before that loan move was his most successful season to date with Newell’s Old Boys. He won the same league with Newell’s where he even won an international cap after developing stoutly as a cultured centre back. Though let’s not let me waffle on about him as a player as if I have any idea what I am talking about and hand you over to Nicolás from the unofficial Newell’s fansite El Rojinegro to tell us what he is actually all about.
WAW: Our style of football requires defenders to be very good passers and have excellent positional sense and anticipation – does Vergini have these qualities?
Nicolás: Santiago is a defender with very good technical ability, a great sense of location within the field and has a good mental speed that helps with anticipating moves. In turn since Gerardo Martino [now Barcelona manager] was with Newell's, the team changed their style of play, imitating very similar to what was done by Pep Guardiola at Barcelona.
The moves are starting from defenders, and Santiago Vergini fulfilled his role excellently. He is a player with a very good short and long passing ability, so it is perfectly integrated into the system posed by Martino.
WAW: What do you think are his weaknesses?
Nicolás: Santiago is not a great header, despite having a good height. Also, Santiago repeatedly showed weaknesses when intercepting attacking moves, waiting until the last minute to disable the offender often cost him not to keep control of the ball.
WAW: Some of our fans are a bit concerned that Newell’s let him leave on loan, was he a success for your club?
Nicolás: Santiago made the decision to leave Newell's though Newell's wanted to continue to have the player on the team. Vergini preferred to go to Estudiantes de La Plata, where he turned in a great presence. His decision to leave was criticized as Newell's football introduced him to the world as an excellent defender. Undoubtedly Vergini leaving was a significant blow, as he was one of the pillars of the defence alongside [former Manchester United defender] Gabriel Heinze.
WAW: The English Premier League is very quick with very physical strikers - do you think Vergini can be a good Premier League player?
Nicolás: Surely Vergini can be a great defender in the Premier League because of his strengths and ability to control a large physical attack. Santiago has great speed and is an excellent passer of the ball.
WAW: Do you have any stories or facts that our readers might be interested in?
Nicolás: Santiago does not have any particular anecdote. What I can say is that one of his qualities is that it is a very good penalty taker, with great effectiveness. Santiago is also a very responsible player with his work and training, so he has not starred in any fact that does not correspond to the life of a professional soccer player.
WAW: Finally, do you think would be a good signing for Sunderland?
Nicolás: Honestly I do not know much about Sunderland. I know that Sunderland are interested in several South American players, such as Nacho Scocco, as the presence of Uruguayan coach [Gus Poyet].
Anyway having Santiago Vergini in your squad is a plus, since he has a high technical quality. If we look for a player with which to compare him to, his game is played in the same way as Gerard Pique of Barcelona.
Thanks very much to Nicolás who took the time to answer our questions despite the language difficulties. Vergini certainly reads to have much promise and given Poyet’s persistent pursuit it gives me a bit of faith that he could turn out to be a good signing. We’ll wait and see.