French league set for Argentinean influx


Veteran libero Alexis Gonzalez is set for his third stint in France

Lausanne, Switzerland, April 22, 2020 – The 2020-2021 season of the French Volleyball League is set for a massive influx of Argentinean talent as five members of the South American country’s national team have recently been announced as additions by clubs from the European nation.

The list includes 38-year-old libero Alexis Gonzalez, who is leaving Club Bolivar to join Montpellier Volley. The veteran defender is a two-time Olympian, having represented Argentina at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, and left Bolivar after six seasons, in which he won as many titles. The libero, who has played for two different French clubs before, will meet a fellow Argentinean at his new club in outside hitter Nicolas Mendez.

Bolivar also saw its main setter walk as 30-year-old Nicolas Uriarte, the son of the legendary Jon Uriarte, has signed with Narbonne Volley. A London 2012 Olympian, Uriarte is set to start his journey in a new country after playing in Argentina, Brazil, Poland and Italy.

He will be joined by another Argentinean at the club as middle blocker Martin Ramos has also signed with Nardonne. The 28-year-old Ramos captained UPCN Voley and left the club after nine years with 19 titles to his name. Ramos, who was part of the Argentinean roster at the Rio 2016 Games, and Uriarte will be welcomed in the club by compatriot outside hitter Nicolas Zanotti, who’s set to start his third season with the team.

"It's a personal challenge for me,"  Ramos explained. "For the last couple of years I've been thinking about playing overseas but I wasn't sure I was ready to leave everything I had at UPCN and deal with all the sacrifices of living abroad. But I think it's the right time for this decision and I'm excited about what's to come." 

Tourcoing Lille has also signed a pair of Argentineans to bolster its squad heading into the 2020-2021 season. One of them is 23-year-old setter Matias Sanchez, who will join the team from Brazil’s Sesc RJ. 

The 1.73m-tall player was part of the Argentinean roster during the 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup and was an Under-23 world champion in 2017, when he was awarded as the best setter of the tournament.

“I had a great experience in Brazil playing with some top-level players like Wallace and Mauricio, but the team project will not continue next season,” he said in an interview to Argentinean website Somos Voley. “I felt I wouldn’t have a chance to continue in the country as all the top teams are already set with their setters and when this opportunity to play in France came I felt it was the right situation for me. It’s a competitive league and I hope I can continue developing as a player.”

Tourcoing also signed 20-year-old outside hitter Luciano Palonsky, who played for Ciudad Voley in the last three seasons. The young player was first called up to the Argentinean national team last season, when he featured at both the FIVB Volleyball Nations League and the World Cup, and will have his first experience playing overseas.

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