A year ago, West Ham United handed a debut to an on-loan Argentine attacker in the footballing outpost of Giurgiu in southern Romania.
The Buenos Aires-born player scored within three minutes of the UEFA Europa League tie and went on to enjoy a fantastic season in Claret and Blue, signing a permanent contract with the Club in the spring.
Twelve months later, Slaven Bilic handed a player with a similar back-story – starting out with one of Argentina’s two Buenos Aires giants before enjoying a prolific loan spell in Brazilian football – a first appearance for the Club at the same venue, against the same opposition, in the same competition.
Jonathan Calleri, who arrived following outstanding spells with Boca Juniors and Sao Paulo, stepped out for his first appearance against Astra Giurgiu on Thursday evening.
The 22-year-old – his age was even the same as Lanzini’s was a year ago! – showed clear evidence of why he scored 39 goals over the last two seasons in South American football, and earned a call-up to his country’s Olympic squad.
Calleri arrived fit and ready to contribute and showed an immediate chemistry with his new teammates after just one full training session.
The young forward came short and held up the ball well, linked play intelligently and made clever runs off the shoulders of defenders – one of which nearly resulted in a goal within nine minutes when Silviu Lung kept out his accurate downward header.
Calleri showed his aerial prowess as he went close again shortly before half-time, when Lung was again in the right place to repel his header from Gokhan Tore’s corner.
At previous club Sao Paulo, the No28 developed a reputation for being strong in the air and accurate with his finishing – traits which he combined to good effect on his Hammers bow.
Another of Calleri’s strengths is his dribbling, which he did not get the chance to showcase on a bobbly pitch in Romania.
All in all, while he may not have emulated compatriot Lanzini’s debut goal against Astra, the new boy’s debut showed why he is considered to be one of the brightest prospects in South American football.