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Giovanni Simeone: Why this son of a gun is real deal

If there's one thing Maurizio Zamparini knows, it's South American talent.

The Palermo president has brought the likes of Edinson Cavani, Abel Hernandez, Javier Pastore and Paulo Dybala to Europe and seen them prove more than value for money.

And if he must lose Dybala, a target for Arsenal, Juventus and PSG, in the summer, Zamparini believes he's identified a readymade replacement from Argentina - and a son of a gun no less.

If there were ever any doubts that Giovanni Simeone was more than a surname, they were dispelled earlier this year in the U20 South American Championships. The River Plate striker fired Argentina to a tournament victory, becoming his country's record-breaking goalscorer for the competition. Indeed, his nine goals were only two short of the overall record of eleven scored by former Fulham striker Hugo Rodallega.

"Dad told me to score seven and instead I managed nine!" declared Giovanni, referring to his father, Diego Simeone, the Atletico Madrid coach.

While spending the football season on different continents, Diego and Giovanni manage to stay close. The Atletico coach has been a regular at River games over the past 12 months as his son has been breaking through. Meanwhile, Gio, who was actually born in Madrid, has spent time with Atletico training with the squad during his downtime from River.

"It is not easy only seeing eachother every six months," concedes Gio.

"It's not a burden but a challenge to have this name. I know a lot of things give me a plus. I am proud that my dad is someone so important in football and the national team. He is an example for me," Gio said after winning the South American title.

"This title is also for him and for all the advice he's given me."

That campaign in Uruguay sparked the interest of suitors, with Palermo making contact amid offers arriving for Dybala. Arsenal de Sarandi and Banfield also asked River about taking Simeone on-loan, but coach Marcelo Gallardo insists the youngster can have a big future if he stays where he is.

"There are no formal requests, but Gio is scoring goals and everyone wants him. This is normal," said Gallardo.

"I want him to stay."

For his part, 'Cholito', while admitting ambitious, long-term goals, is happy to continue his development at River.

"I hope to find a place at River, but I know in the squad in front of me are monsters. I shall endeavor to keep scoring goals and catching the eye of the coach," said the football mad Gio.

"I tattooed the logo of the Champions League at age 14 (on my arm) and I know that someday I will fulfill that dream."

He continues: "But there's a lot of improvement I need to make in my game.

"Being self-critical, I have to be faster with my turns and work with my strike-partners better. There's a lot of things to learn when playing without the ball."

Diego is delighted seeing his son make his way in the Argentine game.

"I'm like any parent, I have the same feelings of any parent seeing their child progress," says the Atletico boss.

"It makes me happy to see his hard work being rewarded."

Palermo are in the boxseat for Simeone's signing this summer, but Atletico cannot be discounted. In Peru, Simeone won the U20 title playing alongside Atleti striker Adrian Correa and admits the idea of joining the defending Spanish champs is something that has crossed his mind.

"I'd be happy to go to any club in Europe. Atletico is a plus for all they gave to my dad and apart from that there is the red and white.

"In red and white with River it has gone well and I hope someday I can do the same with Atletico."

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