27 Mar Alvarez, Veron, Kaio Jorge lead all-star record
There was a duel of ex-Premier League strikers over the previous two weeks within the qualifying rounds of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s Champions League. With Franco Di Santo scoring in each legs, San Lorenzo of Argentina cruised to a 3-1 combination victory over Universidad de Chile, for whom Angelo Henriquez was not on goal.
Some Premier League followers might battle to recall these names. Di Santo moved to Chelsea in 2008, whereas in 2012 Henriquez was snapped up by Manchester United. On the time, each slotted in below the class of “wonderkids” — teenage strikers who had been making a reputation for themselves in South America. Sadly, each then grew to become recognized below the merciless class of “flops” after they did not make the grade in England.
The step up from South American membership football to a world big within the English recreation is a large one. It was too large for this pair. It is vitally exhausting to hit the bottom working in a distinct, extra aggressive type of football, particularly with the extra strains of shifting to a contemporary tradition at such a young age.
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However that’s the approach the market at present operates. The main European golf equipment now not appear significantly all for signing gamers from South American football as soon as they’ve hit their mid 20s. They need kids — so it is a fast have a look at a few of the newest crop lighting up South America.
Nicolas Siri of Danubio in Uruguay is a living proof. He solely turns 17 subsequent month, however is already a star. He has simply loved an exquisite week. The primary time he was handed a spot in Danubio’s beginning line-up, he scored an essential purpose in opposition to native giants Nacional. After which got here an ideal hat trick in opposition to Boston River — a neatly guided header, an excellent working left-footed chip and a right-footed piledriver from the sting of the realm. Immediately dubbed “the brand new Luis Suarez” when it comes to type, he’s being linked with Barcelona, who’ve had him on their radar since he starred for Uruguay at under-15 stage.
This makes Matias Arezo appear like one thing of a grizzled veteran on the age of 18. Arezzo performs for River Plate of Uruguay (a a lot smaller membership than the Argentine outfit) and he, too, was banging in first division targets when he was nonetheless 16. Over a yr in the past, he appeared totally comfy enjoying for his nation at U23 stage within the Olympic qualifiers. Stocky and alert, there’s something of the younger Sergio Aguero in him, and it’s one thing of a shock that he has but to maneuver on.
Throughout the opposite aspect of the La Plata, Argentina’s River Plate have unearthed some footballing silver within the type of Julian Alvarez. Now 21, Alvarez is being introduced alongside slowly by coach Marcelo Gallardo and has to combat for a spot amid the membership’s wealthy attacking sources. However in glimpses — there have been loads of them final yr within the Copa Libertadores — he seems like a real thoroughbred, a assist striker with imaginative and prescient and high quality in a position to drift between the opposing strains, mix at tempo and rating targets. There could also be doubts about the place he can greatest be employed; he is perhaps a type of gamers greatest suited to the assist striker’s function in an quaint 4-4-2. He isn’t a real centre-forward or a winger, and so doesn’t slot simply into all the fashionable day formations. However he’s sufficiently clever to search out area and make himself helpful. Alvarez would appear on the verge of nice issues.
Throughout Buenos Aires at Velez Sarsfield, playmaker Thiago Almada has been attracting lots of consideration, and has been linked with Manchester United. From the identical neighbourhood as Carlos Tevez, Almada will flip 20 on the finish of April. Regardless of his youth, he has been given loads of accountability in a younger Velez aspect. He can drift in from a large place or play as a traditional No. 10, and has the great means to play the decisive cross. The doubts about him are whether or not he’s too light-weight for Europe — during which case he could be exactly the kind of Argentine playmaker that has been so profitable in Main League Soccer. Atlanta United boss Gabriel Heinze actually is aware of all about Almada after creating him at Velez.
As a former defender, Heinze may additionally have his eye on William Pacho, a 19-year-old from Ecuador. Pacho’s membership, Independiente del Valle, have specialised in producing football expertise, and Pacho is one they’ve rolled out in 2021. A strapping left footer, he performs in the midst of the again three and has made an immediate impression with each the accuracy and vary of his passing, and for his means to rove ahead. The query marks are about his defending. He cuts a commanding determine, however is just not blessed with categorical tempo, which makes his determination making significantly essential. The most important take a look at of his younger profession is about to come back; within the first two weeks of April, his aspect are house and away in opposition to Gremio within the last qualifying spherical of the Copa Libertadores. Will probably be fascinating to see how he will get on.
One among his opponents shall be Ferreira, or “Ferreirinha” as he’s extra intimately recognized to Gremio supporters. Over the previous few years Gremio have additionally specialised in youth improvement, and have been extremely profitable with wingers. The diminutive Everton was offered to Benfica, Pepe is on his method to Porto in the midst of the yr and now alongside comes Ferreirinha. At 23, he’s a late developer, however he made up for misplaced time in current months, exhibiting each waspish dribbling expertise and the flexibility to take out defenders with intelligent passing.
Reigning South American champions Palmeiras have used their wealth to assemble a deep squad. However they aren’t simply signing gamers, they’re additionally producing. Huge left-footed central midfielder Patrick de Paula is one to observe, as is right-back/midfielder Gabriel Menino. However probably the most eye catching is winger Gabriel Veron, the star of the present two years in the past when Brazil gained the U17 World Cup. Veron has searing acceleration, however he has rather more than tempo. Sturdy on the ball, he has imaginative and prescient, an eye fixed for purpose and the flexibility to beat the defender on both aspect. It was very unlucky that damage eliminated him from the Membership World Cup and the Libertadores last in the beginning of the yr.
Santos, overwhelmed by Palmeiras in that Libertadores last, have been in such dire monetary straits that turning to youth was the one possibility. Fortuitously, Pele’s outdated membership have excelled in turning out stars of late, and there are extra on the horizon. Angelo, 16, has large promise, as does composed teenage centre-back Kaiky. All-round midfielder Sandry has additionally had a splendid current run. However the participant attracting most consideration is 19-year-old centre-forward Kaio Jorge, who has been linked with Napoli. There’s something of Roberto Firmino within the recreation of Kaio; he drops to stress opposing defenders and to hyperlink the play, and he affords penalty space risk as effectively. Is he fast sufficient to be a star on the highest stage? Time will inform.
Hugo Souza started the 2020 season as Flamengo’s fourth-choice keeper, and ended it with a Brazilian league title to his title. Along with his big gangling body and his athletic means he made some great saves, and in addition made the occasional blunder that’s a part of the educational expertise of any younger keeper. Now 22, he has attracted the curiosity of Ajax, and it might be the suitable transfer. Kicking is certainly one of his weaknesses, one thing the Dutch giants are certain to work on if the deal goes via.
And one gifted participant who has simply arrived in Brazil is Carlos Palacios, who mentioned goodbye to Union Espanola of Chile after they had been knocked out of the Copa Libertadores. Palacios now joins Internacional of Porto Alegre, and again house his progress shall be adopted with shut consideration. It has been a while since Chile produced a real star and Palacios might fill the hole. A assist striker able to working all throughout the attacking line, he’s sturdy and fast with a swagger of vanity that bodes effectively. Working on his left foot would make him extra of a risk. However, on the age of 20, he has time to search out his ft in Brazil and develop into the participant to reply Chile’s prayers.