If you watched Atlético Madrid’s 3-1 win over Granada on Monday, you might have noticed a big, bulky, fearless forward in gold wearing the number 29. He harassed Mario Hermoso, baiting him into a first-half yellow card, and later scored the visitors’ equalizer.
Samuel Omorodion didn’t look much like a 19-year-old making his first appearance in LaLiga EA Sports, but his standout performance against Diego Simeone’s stern defense has played a part in convincing Atlético to go ahead and buy him.
The striker stood out during a remarkable pre-season with (Granada). Under the orders of Paco López, he was a starter in the first league game against Atlético de Madrid. Simeone was amazed with his performance in that match — so much so that he requested his signing.
Atlético have paid Samu’s €6 million release clause — just four months after he renewed with Granada until 2028 — and this has reportedly irked the Andalusian club, which has enjoyed good relations with Atlético in the past (remember the Nehuén Pérez loan in 2020?) but refused to negotiate over the teenage forward.
Granada had planned to keep Samu in the first team this year, which reportedly would have seen his release clause rise to €40 million in 2024. But former Atleti center-back Juanma López — Samu’s agent, and Álvaro Morata’s representative as well — helped put this deal in motion after Monday night’s game, well before his new release clause would have kicked in.
Atlético’s initial plan centered on loaning Samu back to Granada, but RFEF regulations stipulate that he must be loaned to a separate team — so several clubs are now lining up to acquire the Melilla native on loan now that he has signed a new five-year contract with Los Rojiblancos.
The early favorite to sign Samu for the rest of the season appeared to be Cádiz, which reached an agreement to sign striker Sergio Camello from Atlético this summer only for the player to reject the move and sign with Rayo Vallecano instead. Sevilla also reportedly registered an interest in acquiring him, alongside Betis and Celta Vigo.
But Alavés ultimately won the race for Samu, weeks after striker Giuliano Simeone — also acquired on loan from Atleti — suffered a horrific leg injury during a preseason match, which is likely to rule him out for the entire 2023/24 season.
Described as “a striker made in a laboratory,” Samu began his youth career in Sevilla’s academy setup and moved to Granada in 2021. The kid who grew up idolizing Samuel Eto’o scored 18 goals in 33 games for Recreativo Granada (Granada’s B team) last season, helping it win promotion in the process. He has also already made five appearances for Spain’s under-19 side, scoring once.
NO. ¡¿PERO A QUIÉN HEMOS FICHADO?! ME VUELVO LOCO.pic.twitter.com/VdnnQXifQY— GxlDeJoão (@GxldeJoao) August 18, 2023
Samu stands 6’4’’ and possesses an enticing combination of brawn, speed, aerial prowess, and penalty-area instinct. He will need much more experience in the game’s higher levels to realize his potential, but if his display in matchday one of LaLiga is any indication, the toolbox seems pretty full already.
El año pasado le seguí de cerca, más aún en el playoff de ascenso, donde hizo esto en el campo del Real Avilés.— Sancris (@jsancris_) August 18, 2023
This is impressive work from Atlético, which acted as quickly as possible after Samu “left his business card” at the Cívitas Metropolitano on Monday. The club has thus avoided competition for his services with Premier League clubs such as Manchester United and Manchester City, as well as domestic rivals FC Barcelona — all of whom were said to be monitoring the player.
Samu Omorodion showed against Atleti that he has a powerful physique, is good in the air and at hold-up & link-up play, & makes runs in behind but what I was most impressed about us his movements in the box and how he creates a shooting angle for himself.pic.twitter.com/smhv628775 https://t.co/aENKHT8PuX— Emmanuel (@LigaLavo) August 19, 2023
We’ll be watching Samu’s progress closely wherever he ends up on loan, and it’s likely we’ll see him back at the Metropolitano later this season — and perhaps donning Atleti’s red and white stripes in the future.