We have our first mystery striker candidate.
A report out of Sport Benevento in Italy indicates the Timbers may be about to sign on loan with an option to buy Swedish striker Samuel Armenteros from Benevento Calcio in Italy’s Serie A .
Armenteros, 27, joined Benevento in the fall of 2017 after a spectacularly successful 2016-2017 season with Heracles in Eredivisie, the Dutch top flight, that saw the Swedish striker score 19 goals in just over 2,500 minutes. Armenteros, however, picked up an injury to start the 2017-2018 season and hasn’t been as prolific at Benevento, where he has scored only once in 429 Serie A minutes to start his first campaign in Italy.
At the international level, Armenteros has received only spot call-ups from Sweden, including a brief appearance in a World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria in August. Armenteros, therefore, seems to be something of a long shot to make Sweden’s World Cup team.
If the move is completed, Armenteros would likely be at least the Timbers’ top attacker off the bench, and could even push incumbent star striker Fanendo Adi for minutes in the starting lineup. As recently as this week, however, the Timbers were still considering more than one option at striker.
This is the first I’m seeing of this, and last I’d heard PTFC still had multiple targets, so I’m taking it with a grain of salt for now. But something to keep an eye on. #RCTID— Chris Rifer (@ChrisRifer) February 2, 2018
In light of that single report connecting Armenteros to the Timbers and the recent indications that the club had not yet narrowed the list to a single target, it is worth approaching this report with some caution. The enticing possibility of the Timbers signing Armenteros, nonetheless, is well worth keeping on the radar.
UPDATE: Reports of Armenteros to Portland snowballed significantly overnight, with multiple reports in Italy and Sweden now reporting that the deal is in place.
There is an awful lot here that makes sense as Armenteros fits the known profile of the type of player the Timbers have been pursuing. Moreover, we know the Timbers have been closing in on making a move for a TAM-level striker, and the timeline of the reports roughly fits what Merritt Paulson has said about the striker search. This move, quite simply, could very, very possibly pan out.
That said, I still harbor a little bit of skepticism. These reports have gone from zero-to-sixty in no time, which can be (although by no means is necessarily) an indication that there is something else at work here. Moreover, we still haven’t seen any stateside confirmation, and I haven’t heard any indication (publicly or privately) that the striker search has settled on a single target, let alone Armenteros specifically.
Which isn’t to say this won’t happen — it very much lies somewhere on the spectrum of very-possible-to-probable at this point. But I wouldn’t take these reports as gospel just yet.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Our friend at The Oregonian and OregonLive.com, Jamie Goldberg, chimes in and reports the Timbers are still considering two striker options, of which Armenteros is one.
So like we said — this isn’t set in stone.