Nicolas Gonzalez has his roots in the self-same youth team that gave the footballing world Diego Maradona. Now he's doing the business in front of goal for VfB Stuttgart. bundesliga.com profiles the Argentina international, who recently signed a new deal with the south-west club through to summer 2024.
Club: VfB Stuttgart
Country: Argentina (seven caps/ two goals)
Born and raised in Belen de Escobar, a Buenos Aires suburb, the left-footed Gonzalez was soon playing for one of the Argentine capital city's biggest clubs. River Plate and CA Platense showed an interest, but the budding forward opted for Argentinos Juniors, the former home of Fernando Redondo, Juan Roman Riquelme and the great Maradona. Much like his decorated predecessors, Gonzalez - who now stands at 5'11" - scuttled through the youth ranks, earning the nickname 'El Bicho' (the bug) along the way.
Gonzalez helped Argentinos gain promotion from Primera B to the Superliga in his debut season with the senior side, scoring four goals in 20 appearances. He finished the following campaign with seven goals - including four across his first six top-flight outings - before crossing the Atlantic to join Stuttgart. Two goals and three assists couldn't spare Die Schwaben from the drop, but he did claim the Rookie of the Month award for January 2019. Fourteen goals and seven assists in 27 Bundesliga 2 outings propelled the three-time Bundesliga champions back to where they belong at the first-time of asking, in any case. Three goals between Bundesliga Matchdays 4 and 8 of the 2020/12 campaign saw him already surpass his total from back in 2018/19 - he hit three more and assisted two before an injury-interupted season was out.
The Argentinian has also earned seven senior international caps for his goal-laden efforts, making his Albiceleste debut in a friendly against Ecuador, and scoring in back-to-back 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with Paraguay and Peru.
Plays a bit like: Raul Gonzalez
Stuttgart's No.22 doesn't just share a surname with Raul. The Argentine has the pace, finesse, intelligent movement and classy left foot that enabled the Spain, Real Madrid and Schalke legend to plunder 429 goals in 1018 competitive appearances for club and country, including 28 in 66 Bundesliga outings whilst on the books of the Royal Blues between 2010 and 2012.
Watch: Raul, eat your heart out! Nicolas Gonzalez scored one of Stuttgart's best goals in 2019/20
Did you know?
Gonzalez made a slice of history during Stuttgart's promotion-winning campaign. Entering the fray at half-time against Hannover in December 2019, he scored exactly 12 seconds after the restart to make it 1-1. It's the fastest goal by a Bundesliga 2 substitute since detailed data collection began in 2003/04.
What they're saying
"He's got a lot of qualities, but what I like best about him is that he's a winner. He wants to win at all costs. He always gives 100 percent, and gets stuck in. He's very important for us." - Stuttgart coach, Pellegrino Matarazzo
"He's always looking to get in behind, and is strong in the one-on-ones. I can always count on him." - former Stuttgart coach, Tim Walters
"He reminds me of Mario Kempes." - Gonzalez's ex-coach at Argentinos, Alfredo Berti