Ignacio Scocco returns to Newell’s Old Boys

The 35-year-old prolific goalscorer signs an 18-month contract at his hometown club.

Photo: Getty

Ignacio Scocco has been confirmed as a Newell’s Old Boys player for the fourth time. Like many other Newell’s players before him he turned down attractive offers elsewhere in favour of returning to the club closest to his heart.

In the worst kept secret in Argentine football, Scocco travelled to Rosario to negotiate a contract with the Newell’s board at El Coloso del Parque after leaving Buenos Aires and River Plate in mid-June. That contract will see him play for La Lepra until December 2021, with the option to add another year.

Although some might see Scocco as past his best at the age of 35, he has proved time and time again at River Plate that he is still a lethal finisher at this level. His long-time friend Maxi Rodríguez who will now be his captain at Newell’s, is still a prized asset for the club as he gets closer to turning 40.

Like Maxi when he returned to Newell’s after his goal helped Peñarol of Uruguay win a domestic title, Scocco returns after a period of unrivalled success where his form and indeed his goals contributed to River’s capture of the Copa Libertadores and two Copa Argentinas. His solo goal in 2018 against Olimpo was described as ‘sensational’. The Argentine media were left dumbfounded when it didn’t feature in FIFA’s selection for the Puskas Award for the best goal scored in international football in 2018.

When the new Liga Profesional de Fútbol in Argentina returns, Scocco will be keen to add to his tally of 77 goals in the colours of Newell’s, which makes him the 5th highest goalscorer in the club’s history. For fans in Europe, he is remembered for a terrible spell in the Premier League at much maligned Sunderland, where he failed to score in 6 league appearances but his record elsewhere, including Mexico, Greece and Brazil, is commendable.

For manager Frank Kudelka, Scocco instantly improves his squad, especially as Newell’s have struggled to find a consistent striker since he left the club. The players available to Kudelka next season now put Newell’s well beyond the ‘relegation hopefuls’ tag that was placed on them before last season’s Superliga campaign. If Kudelka can hold onto the exquisite defender Cristian Lema, who is owned by Benfica, he has a core squad of experienced players who have played in Europe (Lema, Gentiletti, Pablo Pérez, Scocco, Maxi, Bíttolo, Formica) mixed with a group of young talented upstarts who are bound for Europe in the future (Moreno, Cacciabue, Nadalín).

With a Copa Sudamericana campaign to look forward to, the capture of Scocco firmly signals that this is perhaps the most promising squad of players that have been available to a Newell’s manager since Tata Martino left for Barcelona in 2013.

Welcome home, Nacho!

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