Estudiantes winger Dario Sarmiento is reportedly destined for Manchester City and the Argentine club’s chairman Juan Sebastian Veron believes he offers abilities that are not common in the modern game.
Sarmiento has made just 14 league appearances for Estudiantes since being handed his debut as a 16-year-old by former Barcelona defender Gabriel Milito in October 2019.
Although he is yet to score or provide an assist in Argentina’s top flight, City are reportedly willing to part with £17million to bring him to the Premier League.
His evident ability running with the ball at his feet and the fact he stands at just five feet and five inches has inevitably led to comparisons to six-time Ballon d’Or winner and Argentina captain Lionel Messi.
Veron has no doubt Sarmiento has the talent to enjoy a successful career but warned plenty of work in the right environment is needed for him to reach his potential.
“He has incredible improvement margins. To me, he has quality,” Veron told Stats Perform News.
“Now a lot of clubs look for this kind of player, who runs on the flank. It is so easy for him to dribble his marker – not something so easy to see these days.
“He is fast, agile, nice left foot and great at dribbling, but he is still a project of a player.
“Will he become a great player? It depends a lot on him and on what team he will join to carry on his development. A lot of it is up to him.”
A dribbling specialist
Argentina has long provided a hotbed of young talent that has been poached by the financial might of European clubs and Sarmiento looks set to move across the Atlantic Ocean in the near future.
Looking at players born after the turn of the millennium to have played at least 450 minutes in the Liga Profesional Argentina since the start of 2019-20 gives a good indication of how this burgeoning talent compares to his contemporaries.
It is his dribbling ability that has marked him out as a potential star – only Thiago Almada (20) of Velez Sarsfield has more carries with a chance created than Sarmiento (nine).
However, when looked at on a per-90-minutes basis, Sarmiento comes out on top with a league-leading rate of 1.4 compared to Almada’s 1.1.
He has averaged 2.6 carries with a take on per 90 minutes, the fourth-best behind Pedro de la Vega (3.0), Alan Velasco (4.1) and Gaston Gonzalez (4.8).
Going at defenders
It is clear that Sarmiento is certainly not afraid to take people on.
He has averaged 5.4 attempted take ons per 90 minutes over the past two Liga Profesional Argentina seasons – enough to rank fifth – and has a success rate of 58 per cent. Among players fitting the aforementioned criteria that have attempted at least 20 take ons in total, that puts him eighth in the league.
Perhaps Sarmiento’s success rate is affected by the fact he also looks to beat his man in dangerous areas. He has attempted 0.9 take ons in the box per 90 minutes, well clear of Franco Orozoco (0.6) who registers second in that metric. Furthermore, his 0.5 take ons with a shot per game is another league-leading mark.
It is clear there is plenty of substance to Sarmiento’s play and he could become a potent force if, as Veron suggests, his talent is fostered astutely.