Juan Manuel Vargas is in Seville and finalizing the details of the contract he'll be signing with Real Betis, pending a physical. Real Betis president Juan Carlos Ollero stated, "We've gotten everything in order and we've agreed to a two year contract. Vargas is a famous player who will bring experience to our team." Vargas is out of contract with Fiorentina and will therefore be a free addition for the newly promoted La Liga side.
The move is part of a busy summer transfer window for Betis, who've also purchased young right back Cristiano Piccini from Fiorentina, as well as German international center back Heiko Westermann and Dutch star Rafael van der Vaart.
The Lima-born and Peruvian international Vargas made his debut with local club Universitario before moving onto Colón in Argentina for a year. From there, he was snatched up by Catania, and two years later moved to Fiorentina for €12 million. Despite some early struggles at left back, he quickly became a dynamo on the left wing of Cesare Prandelli's 4-2-3-1, with his excellent crossing and powerful shooting an important feature in the attack for several years.
His goofball nature (seriously, watch that video because it's great) made him a star in the locker room. Despite persistent links to Real Madrid in his pomp, El Loco stayed at Fiorentina for four years. After a loan to Genoa, he returned to Florence and became a very useful squad player under Vincenzo Montella, although he never recaptured the strength and power he'd often shown under Prandelli.
Even as he grew older and slower (possibly due to his private life, which is well reported by the Peruvian tabloids), Vargas retained his lethal shooting and excellent crossing ability. However, it's his versatility and commitment that will be missed most, as he was deployed variously as a left back, left wing back, central midfielder, left midfielder, central attacking midfielder, and left winger in just this past season alone.
We bid farewell to Juan Vargas after 185 appearances for Fiorentina, in which he scored 25 (mostly spectacular) goals and tallied 27 assists. While he frustrated the bejeezus out of us occasionally, he was, all in all, a fun player to watch and to root for, and had a penchant for coming through at important times although his, er, hedonistic lifestyle certainly took its toll. Here's hoping he can bounce back at Betis; he's certainly got los Béticos excited. Adios, Loco.