“If he had another last name, he would still play in the River Reserve and they would talk about him, because he is a player with the DNA of this shirt.”
Matías Gallardo celebrates his goal against Sarmiento. Photo: River Press.
Four years have passed since the little Matthias Gallardo he celebrated the goals with his father on the bench of the Monumental as a ball catcher. Today, that little boy with the voice of a child is already of legal age and the club’s trainers see him as an interesting project.
The MG who plays as a starter in the Reserve led by his uncle Jonathan La Rosa has already had the pleasure of converting (and with the 10) his first goal in the category on Sunday, against Sarmiento. “I always talk to my dad and he gives me advice, supports me and is present, like my whole family. That does me good to move forward”, says Gallardiez.
At 18, the kid is getting closer to following in the footsteps of the Doll and fulfilling the dream of debuting in the First Division. He still needs to hit a wide football growth spurt to take the fundamental leap of becoming a professional footballerthe goal that was proposed since he started kicking and as happened with his older brother, Nahuel, today on loan at Once Caldas in Colombia.
Chino’s challenge, as even his father calls the second of his four children, is to overcome that backpack of being “the son of…” and become a player with his own name in River, due to technical virtues and a solid personality.
Matías is the Gallardo Jr. most similar to Muñeco due to his ability with the ball and game panorama. He showed that virtue since he joined the Infantiles with the classic characteristics of River’s 10, with a left-handed profile, and he developed from the Ninth as a more complete midfielder, although his main evolution occurred in the last 24 months, when he grew several centimeters, strengthened his physique and added intensity and acceleration to its genetic qualities.
As of the last matches in the Fifth, el Chino achieved a remarkable development: he gained dynamics and added aggressiveness and more goals to his game: he scored three in five games in the Fifth and in the Fourth he celebrated one in nine. His debut in the Reserve was on the first date of the League Cup, in February 2022, against Unión in Santa Fe, and he already has 22 official matches, in which in addition to a goal he contributed an assist.
“I identify with my dad’s game because I am a player with a good pass, who thinks and is fast,” MG junior defines himself.
Precisely, that speed to which the kid refers is more mental than physical, as happened with the soccer doll. The southpaw does not usually move the ball much nor does he stand out for his dribbling. His strong point is the distribution of the game with intelligent passes and the versatility to fulfill that role from different positions.. “I started off the hook and I like that position, but I tend to throw myself a little further back and I’ve played as a midfielder on the right or on the left. I like to associate with my teammates and get to the area, which is what the technicians have been asking me for”counted before definitively joining the Reserve.
In fact, that facet is the one that still needs to be enhanced to aspire to dad Marcelo (or whoever succeeds him) giving him a chance in the First Division, beyond the fact that the left-hander is clear about it and replicates the message of the glorious deté: “I am very calm and I know that as time goes by I will have opportunities. Now I am establishing myself, I feel good and I want to go little by little, I do not bother thinking that I have to get there, beyond the fact that it is my dream, ”clarifies the admirer of Enzo Fernández and Exequiel Palacios. Nothing is a casuality.
Just as there are similarities between father and son, there is also an enormous difference: at Matías’ age, the Muñeco was not only part of a River full of figures (Francescoli, Ortega, Crespo…) but was also a fixture in the Passarella National Team, the DT who made him debut at the age of 17. “You can’t compare them because Marcelo was an outstanding player from a very young age,” explains Gabriel Rodríguez, the man who signed MG senior in the Núñez quarry and who has known Chino since the Infantiles. On the other hand, the little MG has the advantage of arriving better prepared at this stage, because he always received adequate nutrition to the demands demanded by high competition and, at the same time, he has incorporated the daily effort required to pursue the goal of to be professional.
Matías is similar to Marcelo, but it will not be easy for him to follow the path of the man who leaves a heavy legacy in the family football succession. There is only one doll, although Chino is not just another Gallardo.
Gustavo Fermani, former DT of the River Reserve: “It has quality and liveliness”
El Chino is a typical River hitch. He has quality, he’s intelligent, very quick to find spaces, play with one or two touches and score through passes. Over time, he adapted to different positions and today he usually plays as an insider, although he likes to start on the right when he doesn’t play free. Other characteristics that he incorporated is a greater speed in his movements and more arrival in the area to define.
He is a boy who always strives to improve because he has the conviction to be professional and the conduct to achieve it. Now the key moments for takeoff begin, although he will surely have to get more experience in Reserve before going up to First. What I am sure of is that being Gallardo’s son is not going to give him any benefit if he is not up to River’s level. But he has conditions.
Gabriel Rodríguez, the trainer who signed him: “It has the weight of the surname”
I have known Matías since he joined the Infantiles and I had him in the Ninth. It is true that he has things from Marcelo in his game, but his father had a very rapid growth from a very young age and the boy is now working in the Reserve to make that leap.
He is a young man with good technique, who understands the game and assumes leadership. He still lacks a bit of physical power and offensive intensity but he is evolving within the usual parameters. There is also another reality: it is not easy to carry the Gallardo surname in River after all that Marcelo achieved. It is impossible that they do not compare him with the Doll and that can be a burden, as happened to so many children of former soccer players: Alonso (Norberto Gabriel), Labruna (Omar), Ramón Díaz (Emiliano and Michael), Simeone (Gio, Gianluca and Giuliano)… It’s not easy at all.
Santino Gallardo, the exception of the family
Santino is the different one from the family not only because he is the tallest of the Muñeco’s children (he exceeds one meter eighty when he is barely 16 years old): also, because the right-hander is the only one who started playing football only at 12 and as a center forward.
Santino with his father Marcelo.
The third of Gallardo’s four children was tempted to try out in River’s Pre Noneva after the birth of little Benjamin. In a handful of games he showed interesting qualities for the position but the pandemic cut him off in 2020 and, above all, the accelerated growth that he needed in the Ninth because he did not comply with the usual development process in the Infantiles. Today, the 2006 category is part of the Seventh and is a companion of Little Devil Claudio Echeverri, the lefty from Chaco who breaks it in the Sub 17 National Team. He alternates games as a starter and substitute as he strives to continue his evolution, although with a different passion than that of his older brothers, Nahuel and Matías.