Gianluca Prestianni: the diminutive playmaker on his way to Benfica
The definitive SCOUTED50 profile.
SCOUTED50 is our collection of the fifty young talents we believe are best positioned to break into the mainstream during 2023/24. Throughout the season, we’ll be detailing all fifty in definitive profiles.
The full list can be read here. Next up is Benfica’s Gianluca Prestianni.
This profile was produced as part of a commercial collaboration with SkillCorner, SCOUTED’s official data partner. SkillCorner’s tracking and performance data is used by 140 of the world’s biggest clubs, leagues and confederations. Learn more.
All stats correct as of 7/12/2023 unless otherwise noted.
Gianluca Prestianni’s first full senior season was interesting, and not just because of what he did on the field.
His club, Vélez Sarsfield, found itself mired in controversy and a relegation battle for the entire season, with its off-field issues headlined by an attack on five of the club’s players by an ultras group.
One of those players was Prestianni, who testified that he was hit in the face multiple times during the attack, while his team-mates were threatened at gunpoint.
On the field, things weren’t going much better. Vélez finished 25th of 28 teams in Argentina’s Primera División, before rallying to finish sixth in their 14-team group in the Copa de la Liga.
That good run of form in the Copa de la Liga eventually ensured survival for Vélez, with a victory over Club Atlético Colón placing them 20th of 28 teams in the aggregated league and cup table that determines relegation, just four points above the drop. For context, Vélez have won the league ten times, have won the Copa Libertadores and reached the semi-finals as recently as last season, and have only been relegated once: in 1940. They are a big club.
Amid the chaos, Vélez gave 1,500 minutes of game time to a potential superstar in the making.
Prestianni made the most of the impossible situation, playing at a level that was quick to entice a host of European clubs into approaching him. With his 18th birthday fortuitously falling on January 31, he is eligible to make a move to Europe in the winter and has likely played for Vélez for the last time. After the ultras fiasco, it seems likely that he and his entourage have pushed for a departure.
And the destination?
All signs point to Benfica as Prestianni’s European landing spot, with numerous reports, as well as a statement from Benfica president Rui Costa, indicating that there is some sort of pre-agreement that will see Prestianni on his way to Lisbon.
The young winger is not just hot property in the transfer market, with Italy also circling to persuade him to represent the Azzurri over his country of birth, as they continue their strategy of aggressively seeking out South American talents of Italian origin.