Gago in 2010
|Full name||Fernando Rubén Gago|
|Date of birth||10 April 1986|
|Place of birth||Ciudadela, Argentina|
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|2011–2012||→ Roma (loan)||30||(1)|
|2013||→ Vélez Sársfield (loan)||3||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Fernando Rubén Gago (Spanish pronunciation: [feɾˈnando ˈɣaɣo]; born 10 April 1986) is an Argentine professional football manager and former player, who is the current manager of Primera División club Aldosivi. During his club career that spanned 16 years, Gago played as a defensive midfielder and deep-lying playmaker for Boca Juniors, Real Madrid, Roma, Valencia and Vélez Sarsfield.
A full international from 2007 to 2017, Gago represented Argentina at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and at the Copa América in 2007, 2011 and 2015, as well as winning a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics.
Gago came from the youth divisions of Boca Juniors, made his professional debut with Boca in the 1–0 victory over Quilmes on 5 December 2004. Despite his youth, he quickly became an essential part of the Boca midfield, attracting interest from European clubs such as Real Madrid  and Barcelona.
On 15 November 2006, Real Madrid President confirmed the signings of Gago, as well as compatriot Gonzalo Higuaín of River Plate, as part of his policy to sign younger players to gradually replace the older stars in the squad. However, news of Higuaín's departure to Madrid was premature, as River Plate rejected a €10 million bid for the striker, stating they would prefer him to remain until at least June 2007. During the 2006 South American transfer saga, Gago's name was also linked with a move to Milan. Ariedo Braida, however, Milan's top transfer guru, was quoted as saying, "They [Gago and Higuaín] only want to go to Madrid." The transfer was finally agreed on 19 December 2006 for €20.4 million. Following the move, he was impressive in the defensive midfield position, which led to comparisons to former Argentina "number 5" Fernando Redondo from Jorge Valdano and many other pundits.
Gago made his debut for Madrid in the 2–0 La Liga defeat against Deportivo de La Coruña on 7 January 2007. This promised to be an exciting start for the extremely talented midfielder. Due to the poor team performance, however, Gago was unable to display his talent, and after being at fault for the opening goal by breaking from the rest of the defensive wall at a free-kick, he was replaced by substitute Ronaldo. However, a week later against Real Zaragoza at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Gago's performance lifted along with that of his teammates. His defensive game picked up considerably as he fought hard in midfield, while also demonstrating vision by delivering several through balls to the attackers. Real Madrid defeated Zaragoza 1–0, with a goal from Ruud van Nistelrooy created by fellow new signing Gonzalo Higuaín.
On 20 May 2007, with the score tied at 2–2 against Recreativo de Huelva, Madrid looked set to return the lead back to rivals Barcelona until Gago provided a last-minute assist to Roberto Carlos, who scored at the end of the match and the squad left Huelva with just three "finals" left to play. Real managed to beat Recreativo 3–2 at the Estadio Nuevo Colombino and went on to win the league title.
Before the start of the 2007–08 season, Gago changed his number from 16 to 8. In his second season at the club, he displayed his true ability with a series of top-class performances in the center of Madrid's La Liga-winning midfield. He managed to claim a first-team spot in place of Mahamadou Diarra and was a key figure in the club's second successive league title.
During the January transfer window, Gago was close to signing for Manchester City. He had agreed on personal terms although an agreement worth about £15 million could not be agreed between both teams.
In the beginning of the 2008–09 season, Gago only played two games due to an injury he picked up during the Champions League match against BATE Borisov. He managed to recover in time and was named in the starting eleven for 27 October La Liga clash against Athletic Bilbao. Madrid won 3–2 and Gago was praised for his match-winning performance in the midfield alongside Wesley Sneijder. Also in this season, Gago scored his first goal for Madrid, a header from an indirect free kick delivered by Guti against Sevilla to tie the game 3–3, though they went on to lose the game 3–4. Against Villarreal, he started in central midfield along with a new signing Lassana Diarra.
At the end of the season, Fabio Cannavaro returned to Juventus, leaving the number 5 shirt available, which Gago had initially wanted when he first signed for Madrid. He willingly offered his number 8 shirt to new arrival Kaká and took number 5, the same number he also wore for Argentina. Under new Madrid manager José Mourinho, Gago struggled to receive playing time due to both a lengthy injury spell and Mourinho's preference for the tandem of Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira in defensive midfield.
On 31 August 2011, Gago moved on loan to Italian Serie A side Roma, with a view to a permanent move, until the end of the 2011–12 season, having amassed a 100 appearances for Real Madrid in La Liga during his four-and-a-half years at the club. His number 5 jersey was conferred to the recently signed Nuri Şahin, formerly of Borussia Dortmund.
Gago scored his first goal for Roma against Lecce on 20 November, an eventual 2–1 Roma victory. At the conclusion of the season, Roma did not use the option to buy Gago, and he returned to Real Madrid.
On 19 July 2012, shortly after returning from loan to Real Madrid, Valencia announced it had purchased Gago for a reported fee in the region of €3.5 million. He made his official debut for Valencia on 19 August, playing the full 90 minutes in a 1–1 away draw against former club Real Madrid.
In 2013, Vélez Sársfield secured Gago's loan to replace injured Ariel Cabral for the team's league and Copa Libertadores campaign. However, the midfielder was mostly injured during his time with the club, playing only four league games and four Copa Libertadores games (scoring once against Deportes Iquique). Nonetheless, he did manage to win a title during his six-month stay in the club, helping Vélez defeat Newell's Old Boys in the 2012–13 Superfinal.
In 2013, it was officially confirmed that Gago's old club Boca Juniors had bought 50% of his playing rights from Valencia for a fee of €1.7 million. Gago scored three goals since his return, against Godoy Cruz in 2014 and Olimpo and Belgrano in 2015.
From June 2016 until summer 2019, Gago played only 39 games due to an injury spell. Ahead of the 2019–20 season, Gago signed a one-year contract with Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield, which he already spent a half-season at in 2013. In November 2020, Gago announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 34.
Gago was part of the under-20 squad which won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship and was one of many touted "future stars" in the competition. Though he was not named in the squad for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, he made his debut a year later and played in the 2007 Copa América. Since then, he has been a regular squad member. He was part of the team which won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics. Although he was often in the starting line-up under Diego Maradona, he was not included in the squad for the 2010 World Cup, but returned to Argentina's squad for the 2011 Copa América.
Gago was named in Argentina's 23-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He made his World Cup debut in Argentina's 2–1 defeat of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Estádio do Maracanã, coming on as a half-time substitute for Hugo Campagnaro. He was named in the starting line-up for the team's second match, a 1–0 win over Iran in Belo Horizonte, and remained a starter until being replaced by Lucas Biglia in the quarter-finals. Gago replaced Enzo Pérez after 86 minutes of the final, which Argentina lost 0–1 to Germany after extra time.
Gago relished operating in a holding role at Boca Juniors, functioning as a deep-lying playmaker in front of the defence, due to his intelligence and ability to dictate play in midfield with his passing; he has also played in a similar role with the Argentina national team and other clubs. Upon arriving in Europe in 2006, Gago drew comparisons to compatriot and former Real Madrid man Fernando Redondo, due to his ability to build up play and break down the oppositions' attacks, thus enabling him to contribute both offensively and defensively. His Real Madrid profile described Gago as a "very dynamic footballer who predicates his game on ball movement". He is also capable of reaching the opponent's box, possesses a tremendous vision for the game, can cover much ground and knows how to protect the ball.
On 17 January 2021, Gago was appointed manager of Argentine Primera División side Aldosivi.
Gago, Sergio Agüero and Lionel Messi had all been teammates as children back in Argentina. Together, the three of them won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands.
Fernando Gago is also a literature and art enthusiast. The first thing he did after landing in Spain was visit the Museo del Prado. He earned the nickname "El Pintita" (roughly meaning "the little one trying to look good" in English) ever since Ramón Maddoni scolded him for playing with his hair. Also, his Boca Juniors teammates would call him so because his youth squad coach would scold him, "Stop trying to look good and run!"
Gago is married to professional tennis player Gisela Dulko with whom he has two sons, Mateo, born on 9 June 2013 and Daniele, born on 19 April 2018 and a daughter, Antonella, born in 2015.
|Boca Juniors||2004–05||Argentine Primera División||7||0||—||7||0||2||0||16||0|
|Real Madrid||2006–07||La Liga||13||0||2||0||2||0||—||17||0|
|Roma (loan)||2011–12||Serie A||30||1||2||0||0||0||—||32||1|
|Vélez Sársfield (loan)||2012–13||Argentine Primera División||3||0||0||0||4||1||—||7||1|
|Boca Juniors||2013–14||Argentine Primera División||20||0||0||0||0||0||—||20||0|
|Vélez Sársfield||2019–20||Argentine Primera División||13||0||0||0||2||0||1||0||16||0|
|Boca Juniors total||146||6||10||2||31||1||6||0||193||9|
|Vélez Sársfield total||17||0||0||0||6||1||1||0||24||1|
|Aldosivi||17 January 2021||Present||13||3||2||8||18||21||−3||23.08|