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Argentine professional football player – Javier Saviola
team FC Barcelona.
Saviola has scored 10 goals in 34 games for the Argentina national team, and represented his country at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. In 2005, he was named for the FIFA 100 list of the 125 greatest living footballers.
Nicknamed El Conejo (The Rabbit), Saviola made his debut for Argentine side River Plate at the age of 16, and went on to be a prolific goalscorer for the club. He helped River Plate win the 1999 Apartura and 2000 Clausura championships, and earned the 1999 South American Footballer of the Year award. Still only 18, he gained a reputation as a phenomenal prospect.
Saviola starred in the 2001 edition of the World Youth Cup, held in Argentina. He was top scorer and was voted player of the tournament, as the Argentine youth national team won the competition. With 11 goals in seven games, he became the record goal-scorer in World Youth Cup history.
Saviola was called up to represent Argentina at the 2006 FIFA World Cup by José Pekerman. Striker Luciano Figueroa and winger Luciano Galletti were in contention for a place on the roster, but Saviola’s excellent form for Sevilla, scoring 14 goals in 43 games and winning UEFA Cup with the andalucían team, secured his place in the squad. Saviola made his presence felt at the tournament, as he scored a goal against Côte d’Ivoire in Argentina’s opening game, and made two assists in the 6-0 victory against Serbia and Montenegro.
Following the 2006 World Cup, Saviola’s one-year loan contract with Sevilla was set to end, and a number of European clubs wanted to sign Saviola. English clubs Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers joined Dutch club PSV Eindhoven and Panathinaikos from Greece in the chase for Saviola in July 2006. In August, Racing de Santander from Spain and English club Aston Villa made their interest felt, though Saviola quickly ruled out a move to Aston Villa.
With his Barcelona contract expiring in 2007, Saviola decided to remain at Barcelona for the 2006-07 season, citing that he was motivated to prove himself in the team, rather than by financial reasons.[He was praised by Frank Rijkaard, and Saviola started the season as a member of Barcelona’s first team squad, having been assigned the squad no. 22. In his first game filling in for Eto’o, Saviola scored his first goal back at the club. It came in the game against Athletic Bilbao, when Saviola scored the last goal in Barcelona’s 3-1 victory.