Association football player
Association football manager
|Birth||7 June 1971, Empalme Villa Constitución, Argentina|
Ariel José Graziani Lentini (born June 7, 1971 in Empalme Villa Constitución, Argentina) is a former football player. He is a naturalized Ecuadorian striker who represented the Ecuador national team on 34 occasions between 1997 and 2000. After retiring in Ecuador he is only able to play amateur football, he has chosen to play for Argentinian fifth-level club Atlético Empalme since May, 2007.
Graziani has been a top goalscorer for practically every team for which he has played. He made his professional debut in 1993 with Newell’s Old Boys of Argentina, where he was a teammate with Diego Maradona until he transferred later that year to Sport Boys of the Peruvian First Division.
Graziani transferred to the Ecuadorian First Division to play for Aucas in 1995, and moved a year later to join Emelec. During his two years with the club, 1996 and 1997, he led the league in scoring while helping Emelec earn league titles. His standout play earned him a transfer to Morelia of the Mexican Primera División. Again he was one of the top goalscorers for his club and the league.
In 1999, Ariel was acquired by Major League Soccer for a transfer fee of slightly less than $2 million, which at the time was the highest transfer fee ever paid by the league. Graziani was allocated to New England Revolution but played in only three games for the Revolution before he was traded to the Dallas Burn for Colombian international Leonel Álvarez.
Ariel was the leading goalscorer for the Burn in 2000 with 15 goals and 2001 with 11 goals until he was traded to the San Jose Earthquakes for Salvadoran international Ronald Cerritos. In 2002 with the Earthquakes, Graziani, while the team’s leading goalscorer with 15 goals, failed to connect adequately with strike partner Landon Donovan. MLS loaned out the final year of his contract. A bidding war between Emelec and Barcelona SC ensued where, in the end, Barcelona offered MLS more money.
In 2003, Graziani, was the top scorer in Ecuador with Barcelona SC. He also scored what was voted the top goal in that year’s Copa Libertadores against the eventual winners Boca Juniors. In 2004, he signed with Lanús in Argentina but only managed 4 goals in 17 games and eventually left the same year to return to Barcelona SC and scored 8 goals from 18 games. In 2005, Graziani signed for LDU Quito. He played there until December, 2006, when he officially retired. Nevertheless, in May, 2007, he signed with Atlético Empalme, where he started his career. Empalme in 2007 plays for Santa Fe Province in zone 9 of the Torneo del Interior C, a complex regional fifth-level tournament.
Nowadays, Graziani holds a political position in his country of birth Argentina. He is the vice-mayor of a small town called Empalme Villa Constitución where he is trying to help the poorest people in his town.
Club Sport Emelec
- Serie A de Ecuador: 1996
- Serie A de Ecuador: 2005
- Canada Cup: 1999
Graziani has played in 33 games for the Ecuadorian national team during his career, scoring 15 goals for his adopted country. He became topscorer at the 1999 Canada Cup, scoring three goals in three matches.