Candidate to reinforce Flamengo to rejuvenate its midfield and improve the physical capacity of the sector in the second half, the Uruguayan Nicolás de la Cruz is far from showing an example of vitality this season.
The 25-year-old player has been facing injuries since the beginning of the year and, because of them, has already missed River Plate in nine of the 21 games he played in 2023, that is, in 42.8% of his official commitments.
The Uruguayan has a long-standing chronic problem with his right knee. In order not to run the risk of losing space in the selection before the 2022 Qatar Cup, the number 11 spent the last year managing the injury.
After the World Cup, which ended last December, De la Cruz underwent more aggressive treatment, with the use of stem cells to try to rebuild the affected region. Because of him, he did not participate in the pre-season and missed River in the first four rounds of the Argentine Championship.
However, this intervention was not enough to solve the problem that plagued the Uruguayan.
Due to knee pain, he missed three more Argentine league games at the turn of March to April and also missed out on his team’s Copa Libertadores debut against Strongest. In addition, he could not defend Uruguay in the first Fifa Date of the year.
Last weekend, after managing to mend a sequence of three consecutive matches (something rare this season), De la Cruz was spared by coach Martín Demichelis from the clash against Platense due to an overload precisely in the thigh muscle.
The expectation of the coaching staff is that the Uruguayan will be able to participate normally in the game against Sporting Cristal, starting at 9 pm (Brasília time), in Lima, for the fourth round of the Libertadores.
The hiring of De la Cruz was a request by Jorge Sampaoli to Flamengo’s board to try to alleviate the problems caused to the team’s creation sector by the high age of Everton Ribeiro (34 years old) and the constant injuries of Giorgian de Arrrascaeta (28).
The red-black interest in the player was reported last week, initially by “ge” and confirmed by UOL.
This is not the first time that the midfielder has entered the radar of Brazilian clubs. Flamengo itself has already expressed interest in signing him last year. Palmeiras was another team that opened negotiations with the player.
Even with the interest of five-time world champion football, De la Cruz opted at the turn of the year to renew his contract with River. His new bond runs until the end of 2025 and has a termination fine of 22 million euros (R$ 117.4 million).
But Flamengo may not need such a high proposal to get the Uruguayan released. According to the Argentine newspaper “Olé”, River is willing to accept offers around 17 million euros (R$ 90.7 million).
Even before going after De la Cruz, the current Libertadores champion has already secured two reinforcements for the second half of the season: Argentine goalkeeper Agustín Rossi, Cristiano Ronaldo’s teammate at Al-Nassr, in Saudi Arabia, and attacking midfielder Luiz Araújo (ex-São Paulo), who was at Atlanta United, from Major League Soccer in the United States.
With three wins in the last three rounds of the Brazilian Championship, Flamengo has already jumped to sixth place and is six points behind the leader, Botafogo (12 to 18). This Saturday, he receives Cruzeiro to defend the sequence of positive results.