VfB Stuttgart and Diego Maradona in the same sentence? Following Nicolas Gonzalez's summer transfer to the Mercedes-Benz Arena, it's something you might have to get used to.
bundesliga.com presents five things you might not know about Stuttgart's newest recruit, the latest talent off the Argentinos Juniors production line...
Nicolás #Gonzalez makes an immediate move from @AAAJoficial in Argentina's Primera División to #VfB. The 20-year-old striker has signed a deal until 2023. Welcome to #VfB, Nicolás! #VfB #stuttgartgehtab pic.twitter.com/TxTuacwPE6— VfB Stuttgart_int (@VfB_int) July 10, 2018
1) In Maradona's footsteps
Born and raised in Belen de Escobar, a Buenos Aires suburb, 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 legendary Diego Armando Maradona. Much like his decorated predecessors, Gonzalez scuttled through the youth ranks, earning the nickname 'El Bicho' (the bug) along the way.
2) Persistence pays
After 10-plus years in the Argentinos youth sides, Gonzalez made his professional debut in an Argentina Copa defeat to Deportivo Laferrere, in July 2016. He took his league bow the following month, and went on to score four Primera B Nacional goals as Argentinos gained promotion to the top tier. Seven goals and one assist in 24 appearances helped the Juniors to a respectable mid-table finish in 2017/18, but Stuttgart's new man insists he "can do better".
3) The next Kempes?
Gonzalez's self-deprecating assessment aside, his former Argentinos coach Alfredo Berti had few complaints. "He reminds me of Mario Kempes," he said, Kempes being the hero of Argentina's 1978 FIFA World Cup final win over the Netherlands. A natural goalscorer, capable of playing out wide or through the middle and boasting a beast of a left foot, the comparisons with 'El Toro' (the bull) are plain to see.
4) Bundesliga over Serie A
Unsurprisingly, Gonzalez's qualities didn't go unnoticed over in Europe. And despite reported interest from a number of leading Serie A sides for the young forward's signature, three-time Bundesliga champions Stuttgart won the race for his signature.
"I'm very happy and excited to be here at VfB Stuttgart," Gonzalez said after penning a five-year deal on 10 July 2018. "It's a great honour for me to play for this club. From pictures and videos, I have already seen a great deal of the amazing fans and the stunning atmosphere in the stadium."
5) Stuttgart's Argentinian arm
Gonzalez also gave a shout-out to his fellow Argentinian brothers in arms Emiliano Insua and Santiago Ascacibar, the latter having exploded onto the Bundesliga scene in 2017/18 after joining Stuttgart from Estudiantes de La Plata. Happily for Stuttgart, Gonzalez knows a thing or two about making an impact, scoring as he did four goals in his first six Primera Division outings last season. He might only be 5'9", but when did size get in the way of Argentines and world football stardom...?