Real Madrid & Barcelona set to miss out on 'next Lionel Messi'

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith
  • 17 Nov 2023 08:45 CST
  • 3 min read
Lionel Messi, Inter Miami, 2023/24
© ProShots

Velez Sarsfield wonderkid Gianluca Prestianni could be on his way to SL Benfica after the Portuguese giants lodged a substantial bid for the young Argentine.

The 17-year-old winger is regarded as one of South America’s hottest prospects and both Real Madrid and Barcelona are also interested in signing him.

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However, Benfica have sped into the lead in the race to land Prestianni after submitting a bid for the teenager.

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Both Real Madrid and Barcelona have a history of signing talented youngsters from South America, with Lionel Messi and Neymar famous examples for the latter, although Messi joined at a very young age from Newell’s Old Boys, while Vinicius Junior and Rodrigo both signed for the former straight from Brazil.

But, the Spanish sides are set to lose out on Prestianni to Benfica.

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Prestianni to Benfica?

Velez President Fabian Berlanga has admitted, via Sport: “There is an offer from Benfica and, of course, we are analysing it. We are not going to stop the sale of the player because we need the money.”

Prestianni cannot leave Argentina until he turns 18 on January 31, something Berlanga has acknowledged. “He cannot go until that date because you are a minor, but there is a pre-agreement. With the money obtained we have to cover some needs of the squad."

Benfica have reportedly offered €8 million for 85% of Prestianni’s rights, which is more than both Real Madrid and Barcelona were willing to pay.

Prestianni, who is the youngest player in Velez's history, has made 39 senior appearances for the club, scoring three goals and providing one assist. As a result, he's earned comparisons with the aforementioned Messi.

He would become the second high-profile Argentine in as many years to join Benfica were he to make the move following Enzo Fernandez’s transfer from River Plate in 2022.

The 2022 World Cup winner left Benfica to join Chelsea after just six months, with the Blues spending €121m to secure his signature.

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