THE ‘professional’ gang that assaulted ex-Man City star Nicolas Otamendi during a violent robbery at his home wore gloves and balaclavas and communicated using walkie-talkies.
They fled with a £250k haul of watches, jewellery and cash in a ‘military-style’ raid which lasted just ten minutes, reports in Portugal say.
Otamendi, who joined Portuguese giants Benfica in September 2020, reportedly had a belt placed round his neck and his hands tied behind his back in an ambush as he returned home just before 1am after his team’s 4-1 win on Sunday night.
His ‘panicked’ children are said to have been separated from their dad by the intruders after they forced the footballer to enter his house on a private estate surrounded by a pinewood forest a half-hour drive from Lisbon.
Initial reports pointed to four men taking part in the violent break-in at Herdade da Aroeira, but Portuguese media citing police sources said up to SEVEN criminals believed to be Eastern Europeans may have been involved.
Part of the gang is believed to have remained outside Otamendi’s home to act as lookouts while their accomplices were inside, with walkie-talkies allowing them to communicate.
None of the attackers are said to have spoken Portuguese.
Police are understood to be probing the possibility the gang involved in the assault may have flown into Portugal to carry out the crime and could be behind other unsolved raids on footballers’ homes.
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Porto midfielder Otavio's home was targeted in December 2019 while he was playing at home in a Europa League match against Feyenoord.
His wife was alone with their children when the break-in occurred and alerted the police.
The same day Celta de Vigo striker Iago Aspas’ home just over Portugal’s northern border with Spain was also targeted.
SECURITY STEPPED UP
Argentine international Otamendi has now hired private security to keep guard outside his home.
One unconfirmed report in the respected Jornal de Noticias said the 33-year-old had decided to move after the drama and was now house-hunting with the help of his club.
The robbery is being investigated by Portugal’s Policia Judiciaria force, which has yet to make any official comment and is expected to stay silent until arrests are made.
Although initial reports pointed to Otamendi’s son being the only child at home, his daughter is also thought to have been caught up in the incident.
Benfica said in statement: “Benfica confirm their player Nico Otamendi was the victim of a robbery at his home during the early hours of today.
“The player and his family are doing well, despite the enormous discomfort caused by the situation they are experiencing.
“Benfica calls for the privacy of the player and his family to be respected by all the media, while awaiting the conduct of investigations initiated by the authorities.”
CHILD MAINTENANCE ROW
Otamendi hit back in October 2020 after being accused of falling behind on child maintenance payments.
The Argentine international was said at the time to have discovered his ex was taking legal action as he boarded a plane to Bolivia for his country’s World Cup qualifier.
Otamendi has a 14-year-old daughter called Morena from the relationship.
The defender, who has two children called Mia and Valentin with current wife Celeste Rey, released a statement at the time insisting he and his family had been the victims of ‘unjustified and unfair’ attacks.
He said: “Unfortunately I find myself forced to clarify that the attacks my family and I have received, using my daughter as a passive instrument, are unjustified and unjust.
“I have always fulfilled my obligations as a dad with great love, seeking the best for my daughter.
“This exposure of her, of my family and me personally, smearing my good name as a father, has a limit and I am going to address it in the courts.”
As a youngster growing up on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Otamendi mixed boxing with football.
He enjoyed five years at Man City, making 210 appearances and scoring 11 goals following a £32m move from Valencia.
He won two Premier League titles, four League Cups and an FA Cup during his spell at the Etihad.
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