Chimy Avila could arguably be one of the biggest bargains on Football Index at just 91p but who is he and why does he represent value for money?
Aiming to fulfil a childhood dream
Avila has openly spoken of a ‘darkness’ that can consume you in the region of Rosario – one of Argentina’s largest cities – where he and his seven siblings, one of whom, Gaston, plays for Boca Juniors, grew up. For Avila though, football was his pathway away from a life of drugs and crime.
He came through the ranks at lower league club Tiro Federal and was offered his first steps into Europe as a 17 year old with a loan spell at Espanyol. It ultimately proved unsuccessful. Avila spent a few more years with Federal but two years out of the game and the birth of a critically ill daughter had his dream of making it pro hanging by a thread as he considered jacking it all. Then his agent and 12 time Argentine champions San Lorenzo – who Avila credits for saving him from the deepest depths – gave him another chance.
After two and a half years with San Lorenzo only yielded 28 appearances another loan move to Europe presented itself. This time, Avila would grab it with both hands.
Success in Spain
Avila’s second bite of the cherry in Spain came about courtesy of former Argentinian international keeper Leo Franco who he had played alongside at San Lorenzo. Franco had moved to Huesca in the twilight of his career and progressed on to occupy the managerial hot seat of the La Liga 2 side.
The 2017/18 campaign saw Avila spend most of his time playing out wide but he contributed seven goals and two assists as Franco’s men finished runners up behind Rayo Vallecano to win promotion to La Liga. Avila arranged a deal to extend his loan ensuring he would have the opportunity to shine in Spain’s top tier. The next season wasn’t without its challenges for Huesca and they succumbed to relegation finishing second from bottom and eight points from safety.
On a personal level though, Avila proved that he could handle the step up establishing himself as Huesca’s star man by top scoring with 10 goals – including some stunners – despite, once again, spending most of his time on the flanks. His return to San Lorenzo didn’t last long as newly promoted Osasuna came calling.
On an upward trajectory
The noticeable change this season was the decision to utilise Avila as a centre forward more regularly than had been the case with Huesca. It proved to be working as he began rattling in a goal every other game. His performances, which are fuelled with graft, craft and South American flair were pulling Osasuna comfortably away from the relegation battle. The rest of La Liga were taking note of a man coming into his prime.
Barcelona were on the lookout for a striker to bolster their attacking options just a couple of months ago and eventually settled on Martin Braithwaite. Somewhat higher up their list was Avila who was rumoured to be on the brink of a £25m move to the Catalan giants but an innocuous incident in a match against Levante saw the Osasuna forward suffer a season ending cruciate injury. The only place Avila was heading was the treatment table.
What does the future hold?
Anyone watching Osasuna this season would have pinpointed Avila as their main threat long ago. His tireless hustle is a nightmare for defenders and his lethal finishing an even bigger concern. Losing him from the team has highlighted just how good he is. When Avila sustained his injury Osasuna sat 10th in La Liga but in six league games since they find themselves third from bottom in the form table with just six goals to their name.
That wouldn’t be the case with Avila leading the line. We suggest they get used to it because as soon as he proves his fitness, he’ll be off. Barcelona, Atletico and Sevilla are all interested in his signature. The prospect of Avila lining up in a Barca side is exciting because the players around him will elevate him even further. The sky truly is the limit given his technical ability and work ethic. The other goal presumably in Avila’s heart is to don the blue and white of Argentina. He’s yet to achieve that feat but with a move to elevate his profile – and probably his stats too – nearing ever closer then it seems an international call up is just around the corner.
He’s has been quoted in the past saying ‘dreaming doesn’t cost a thing’ and he’s agonisingly close to fulfilling his wildest dreams – back him now whilst the price is right.