Rosario, considered Argentina’s second city, is situated in the state of Santa Fe, just a 4-hour drive north of the capital Buenos Aires. (In a nation so vast the locals consider 4 hours to be a short jaunt.)
Rosario is the famous home of the man they call the greatest footballer of all time. Pictures and paintings of a young Lionel Messi immortalise him on the walls and buildings of the city that he has helped to put on the map.
Rosario Central football club doesn’t usually come up in conversation outside of Argentina. In fact even within Argentina they are far from one of the big boys like Boca Juniors or River Plate.
In fact, Rosario Central isn’t even the most famous club in the city of Rosario, that’s Newell Old Boys; the club that is home to Marcelo Bielsa and Maxi Rodriguez. Newells have a more successful history than their cross-town rivals Central, and perhaps more importantly, they got to call Diego Maradona their player and Lionel Messi their prodigy.
Rosario Central therefore have gone under the radar and lived in the shadow of their rivals. However in recent months and years they have been in the news for a change. Rosario Central has been hitting headlines globally, and that is because they have become quite the talent factory for young footballers.
Central is the club of Argentine World Cup winning legend Angel Di Maria; the man who scored in the final at Qatar 2022, and also scored the winner of the Copa America in 2021 when Argentina famously triumphed over Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.
Di Maria left Rosario for around $10 million over 15 years ago. It turned out that his move wasn’t just a big thing for Rosario Central, but a big step for the future of the Argentine national team. He arrived in Benfica and went from strength to strength in Europe, the rest is history. Literally.
Even more recently the club has made a consistent habit of exporting Argentine talent to some of the biggest clubs in world football. In doing so it has earned itself a reputation as a great club for developing players and selling them on at a fantastic price.
Alejo Véliz is the latest in a long line of transfers out of Rosario, he joined Tottenham Hotspur for a whopping $16.2 million this summer and at just 19 years of age has been training with the first team and will look to break into their match day squad at some point this season.
20 year-old Gino Infantino has also left Rosario Central for Europe this summer for a fee in the region of $4 million. The central midfielder is yet another promising talent produced by the club. He has decided to join Fiorentina in Italy.
Rosario Central might not be winning any trophies at the moment, nor are they going to get any lucrative Premier League style TV deals, so income streams are far from abundant.
Matchday earnings are slim for clubs like Central too, as the average ticket in Argentina is worth less than $8. The money the club can turnover on player sales therefore, is absolutely crucial for survival.
A year ago Rosario made three more key sales, the pick of the bunch being one Facundo Buonanotte to Brighton for around $7 million. Buonanotte is a top talent that is easily worth double that price now. At just 18 years of age he has now made 13 appearances for Brighton and he even managed to get on the scoresheet during his debut season with the club.
During the 2016/17 season Rosario had perhaps their most successful summer of sales. Current Argentina international Giovani Lo Celso left the club for $11 million as he made the move to PSG in France. That same year Rosario also sold Franco Cervi and Walter Montoya to Benfica and Sevilla respectively, for a combined total of over $12 million.
Over $23 million in sales for a ‘big club’ in Argentina would be something significant, for Rosario Central it was a dream come true.
Kevin Ortiz might be the next moneymaker for Rosario Central. The young midfielder is the most exciting prospect at the club and is still just 22. Keep an eye out for him going to Europe for a few million in the next year or two because the Rosario Central talent train is showing no signs of slowing down. This modest mid-table Argentine side are subtly, but surely, churning out global superstars.