With his transfer completed, Mamelodi Sundowns paraded their newest signing Leandro Gastón Sirino at the Chloorkop headquarters on Wednesday.
Sirino’s transfer to Sundowns brings to an end months of speculation surrounding his future. But the question on every South African football lover's mind is who is the unknown South American-born player and just why was Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane so eager to rope him in ahead of their Caf Champions League campaign?
Sirino is a 26-year-old Uruguayan winger who has plied his trade predominantly in his native homeland, Chile and Bolivia, and while he is a relative unknown to South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) audiences, he comes highly regarded. It was believed that he was spotted on Mosimane’s scouting expedition earlier this year where the former Bafana Bafana mentor signalled him out as one of his targets during the January transfer window.
However, Sirino could be regarded as somewhat of a football nomad as he started off his football career at Uruguayan club Rampla Juniors before moving onto Chilean clubs San Felipe and San Luis where he enjoyed indifferent spells. But it was only during his time in the Bolivian top flight with Club Bolivar, where he really shot to stardom. After Joining the Bolivian Champions on a free transfer at the beginning of 2017, Sirino went on to register 18 goals in 41 appearances cementing his name as stalwart in the La Academia squad.
While Sirino is primarily a winger with a handy right boot who can play on either side of the field, he can be described as a skilful player with a knack for goals as well as an eye for a pass. He can also be utilised as a second striker, something that may tickle the Sundowns coach fancy with Jeremy Brockie playing as the Sundowns target man.
What Sundowns fans should expect
Although, Sundowns may currently have several wingers within their ranks, including new signing Aubrey Ngoma, the Montevideo-born player may offer the Brazilians something unique. Sirino is a typical South American footballer who relies on his flair and skill, and can be liked to that of former player Jose Torrealba to get the better of opposition defenders. But while comparisons will be made with the Venezuelan as well as with Kazier Chiefs forward Gustavo Paez, glimpses of Sirino in action has shown that he has his own unique set of qualities which should endear him to the Masandawana faithful.
But what will likely stand out immediately to the Sundowns fans is his Sirino’s goal scoring prowess. While the likes of George Lebese, Ngoma, Anthony Laffor and Themba Zwane are creative wizards they are often let down by their poor finishing in front of goals, and this could possibly see move ahead of them in the pecking order should he find his scoring boots.
It should also be noted that with Sundowns usually implementing a 4-3-3 system as their formation of choice, this should suit Sirino who loves to cut in on the inside. Opposition defences should also be wary as the winger has a useful shot on him and is known to bang home an audacious effort or two from outside the area.
However, with all new foreign-based signings that have moved to Sundowns, it remains to be seen, just how Mosimane chooses to utilise Sirino. Previously with the likes of Leonardo Castro and Yannick Zakri, Mosimane chose to slowly integrate them into the South African game rather than throw them into the deep end from the off. But with so-much football to be played in the coming months, the 53-year-old may be forced to show his hand.
What Mosimane though will take solace from is the fact that Sirino is a technically gifted player who is strong on the ball and able to pick out a pass, this should be enough to get any team worrying about the threat which he poses.