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Why Luciano Vietto has Real Madrid, Liverpool battling for his signature after handful of Racing games

€8 million for an 18 year-old with less than ten senior games under his belt is great money in anyone's language.

But Real Madrid's offer for Luciano Vietto was quickly returned to sender by Racing Club last week.

"We just want to enjoy him," one Racing insider told Ole. "There's no reason to put a price on him. We have the South American U20s coming up in January and his profile will only get bigger."

Vietto was given a senior debut last year by Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone, but it has only been this season, under Luis Zubeldía, that he's had the chance of regular first team football.

The 18 year-old has repaid Zubeldia's faith with five goals in seven games, including a stunning hat-trick against San Martín de San Juan.

"It was amazing," Vietto recalled. "My picture was on the backpage of all the newspapers. I bought myself one in the morning. My face was staring back at me - but no-one recognised me in the shop!"

It was that treble, in his first start for Racing, which convinced Real to make their offer. Liverpool and moneybags PSG are also following Vietto's progress this season.

"I have to keep my mind on Racing because if I think of anything else I'm going to lose my focus," says Vietto.

The striker's explosion this season is all the more amazing when you consider he needed his nagging parents to convince him to ditch the books and stick with football only a couple of years ago.

Rejection at Estudiantes, where he was humiliated by one junior coach, had a young Vietto ready to give up the game for good and focus on his studies. But his parents were convinced of their son's talent and managed to persuade him to attend trials at Racing.

"It was in 2010," recalls Vietto. "I trialled for two or three days. Racing were the only club I went to. I'm grateful for the chance they gave me."

On Estudiantes, he adds: "I don't know why it didn't work out. But I never had much of a chance. Decisions were made at the time, decisions that ... well, it hurt. Of course, it hurt."

With his pace and close ball control, "my hero is Lionel Messi", Vietto has been likened to former Real Madrid and Barcelona striker Javier Saviola.

"I think my creativity and speed are my strengths," he says. "But most of all, it's my work in the penalty area. I always try to get my shots on target. But I'm far from being a complete player. I am clumsy on my wrong side, I still need to do better in the air. I'll keep working hard, day-to-day to improve."

The manner of Vietto's hat-trick does suggest he has plenty to work with - a cool finish with his right foot, a powerful header and a left-foot volley. Not bad for someone who still feels somewhat "clumsy".

The interest of Real, Liverpool and PSG has kicked Racing into action. The board met last week and it was agreed to immediately upgrade Vietto's current contract.

Jorge Cysterpiller, the player's agent, has been called to a meeting this week with Racing directors to thrash out terms. Those close to negotiations say they're determined not to lose Vietto in January, but will assure Cysterpiller that a move at the end of the season won't be blocked if the right offer arrives.

"I was born for this," Vietto said after his San Martin performance. "But it was never set in stone. I've now learned, you never give up."

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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