Paraguayan forward Tonny Sanabria jetted into Sevilla last night to prepare for his move to Real Betis and become the 7th signing of the pre-season. He was met at San Pablo airport by Miguel Torrecilla and shortly after photographed with a verdiblanco scarf to put any doubters at bay and give fans a real sense of anticipation.
On Wednesday he successfully completed his medical and will sign for Betis in the evening before joining his new teammates in Marbella.
Obviously Betis have made a large number of signings the past couple of seasons but this one seems different. More significant. As mentioned in my previous blog, we’ve already made six very good signings but this almost seems like a steppe change for the club. Last summer, yes, we had the likes of Joaquín and Van der Vaart join the club but these players are in the twilight of their career (VdV more towards midnight) – Sanabria isn’t though.
At 20 years old, he’s a young, exciting and an extremely talented forward. He’s also wanted by a whole host of other clubs, especially Tottenham; yet he chose Betis. It’s true he wanted to stay in Spain after spending last year on loan at Sporting Gijón but this signing is part of the plan that former Sporting Director Eduardo Macià laid the foundations for and talked about last summer but now is finally being acted upon by new SD Miguel Torrecilla. This guy knows what he wants, who he wants and how to get them.
Ruben Castro’s succession plan
For the past half a decade Betis have fully relied upon Ruben Castro to score goals. Jorge Molina has chipped in with a fair few but my mind is sparse to who else has helped out. Jonathan Pereira? Chuli? Braian Rodríguez? Van Wolfswinkel? Roque Santa Cruz?
I can’t remember the amount of times I’ve written that Betis need someone else to help share Castro’s load, but he carries on saving the club year on year and has hit double figures in league goals every single season.
All successful institutions however, need a succession plan for when the stalwarts and those of importance think about moving on. At 35 Rubén hasn’t got too many years left at the highest level. Managers and Sporting Directors have been and gone and tried to create a succession plan at Betis but the club have barely been keeping their head above the water for the past decade let alone have time to think about the future.
In Tonny Sanabria, a successor could be moving forward for the soon-to-be vacuum that Rubén Castro will create when he hangs up his boots. It’s a huge ask and he could be a complete failure, but Betis haven’t tried this style of signing before whilst I’ve been following them and therefore it could represent a new era.
Sanabria’s game and what we can expect
Whilst Dele Ali was making headlines in England for his goalscoring antics as a teenager, so was Tonny Sanabria at Sporting. Sanabria hit double figures last season by the time a struggling Sporting team had scored 23. He isn’t the tallest, although taller than RC, but he can lead the front line (like RC) and is a real goal poacher (like RC).
Roma clearly rate the striker and still own half the rights to him but he has signed a five year deal at Betis. He walked away from Barcelona after joining La Masia at the age of 13 to sign for Roma. He made a few appearances under the late Tito Vilanova but decided to leave due to limited opportunities in the B-team.
His 11 goals last season but him in sound company for goalscoring teenagers to grace la liga. Only two others have scored more than 10 goals whilst still in their teens – no one too special though, just Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero.
Sanabria has many good traits but having watched him a few times last season, his awareness, timing and positioning are key attributes. In the box the ball just seems to fall to him. Despite this, to be a good forward you still need to be able to stick the ball in the net when it is at your feet and with an excellent goals:shot ratio he can do this too. His accuracy and efficiency make him a real poacher, just like our beloved RC.
Betis may well be worth watching next season for this young man alone.