In this series, we take a look at some of the most interesting talents in the football world. Next up is San Lorenzo’s striker Adolfo Gaich.

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This summer’s Olympic Games should have been the breakthrough moment for Adolfo Gaich, with the 21-year-old poised to lead the Argentina frontline in Tokyo. After a move to Club Brugge January collapsed, there was still no shortage of suitors for Gaich after an impressive 2019 had elevated the young Argentinian from a physically strong, yet raw prospect, to potential future star.

It has been in an Argentina shirt that Gaich has most caught the eye, with a hat-trick against Venezuela at the South American Championships, three goals at the Under-20 World Cup, five at the Pan American Games and another at the Pre-Olympic tournament made the powerful number nine one of Argentina’s standout performers.

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These displays made San Lorenzo’s decision to overlook Gaich for much of 2019 even more perplexing. Manager Jorge Almirón’s side clearly lacked goals and a penalty box presence. His replacement Juan Antonio Pizzi soon ran into similar problems and it wasn’t until towards the end of the year under the interim leadership of Diego Monarriz and Leandro Romagnoli, that Gaich found a regular spot.

Five goals in seven games either side of the Christmas break helped push San Lorenzo up into an eighth-placed finish, but also served as an opportunity for Gaich to showcase more of his all-round game, which at that point had mostly been seen for the Argentina Under-20s.

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Standing 190 cm (6 ft 3 in) and with a broad, muscular physique it’s easy to see how Gaich earned his nickname of ‘El Tanque’ (The Tank), yet it’s shortsighted to pigeon-hole the youngster as nothing more than a target-man number nine.

Those physical attributes do allow Gaich to win his fair share of aerial duels, but his heat map (above) and number of successful dribbles (4.45 per 90 minutes) are evidence of a forward comfortable with running the channels and making an impact in wider areas in order to link play.

The last fixture before the suspension of play in Argentina illustrated this with Gaich laying on a late winner for Oscar Romero away to Patronato.

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This run out to the left-wing is something that Gaich has put to good use for Argentina. Isolating a defender, the centre-forward utilises his upper body strength and under-estimated pace to beat his marker before cutting in towards the penalty box.

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Of course, Gaich’s physicality does also allow for a more direct approach, but even within this aspect of his play, there is a subtlety.

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At last year’s pre-Olympic tournament with the Argentina Under-23 side, Gaich displayed this perfectly. Providing a focal point for the goalkeeper to aim for, but quickly turning this into a goal-scoring situation.

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Like any good goalscorer, his intentions are always to get in the penalty box and his finishing inside the 18-yard box has proved excellent.

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It was this skill that earned Gaich a full international debut against Mexico last September and contributed to his decent goal scoring return in the Superliga. Five goals may not appear too impressive, but from so few shots, Gaich was among the most accurate finishers in the top flight.

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Lionel Scaloni drew comparisons to Robert Lewandowski after handing Gaich his debut and while clearly a large amount of development is required to reach that level, the Argentina coach sees the reason why some of Europe’s top clubs already circling.

 

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