In this series, we take a look at some of the most interesting young talents in the world of football. Next up is Uruguayan 17-year-old wonderkid Matias Arezo.
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South America’s World Cup qualification belatedly got underway this month, behind closed doors and not without its usual drama and controversy. While two rounds of fixtures may not be enough to draw serious conclusions, these initial matches nevertheless brought Uruguay’s optimism down to earth with a bump.

A fortunate last-minute win against Chile and a comprehensive defeat away in Ecuador may not be terminal to their chances of making Qatar 2022 but have understandably dented confidence.

While Uruguay have done well to rejuvenate and renovate their midfield in recent years, there are fears over how they will replace talismanic forwards Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.

It would seem a near-impossible task but one player who could go some way to filling their void in the future is 17-year-old wonderkid Matias Arezo.

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Like many in Uruguay, Arezo started playing Baby Futbol when he was three, before joining River Plate de Montevideo as an 8-year-old.  He was then promoted to the first team as a 15-year-old by Pablo Tiscornia in 2018, but it was the arrival of Jorge Fossati as manager the following year that gave him his first taste of senior football.

Off the back of five goals in seven games for Uruguay at the 2019 U17 Sudamericano, Arezo quickly established himself as a regular for River Plate.  He finished his debut season with 6 goals in 22 appearances for Los Darseneros and was voted the best newcomer of the Uruguayan Primera.

Arezo continued his sparkling displays this year with another 4 goals and 2 assists in 15 appearances and also earned a call up to the Uruguay U23s, where he managed to score against old rivals Argentina.

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As you would expect from a player with such an impressive scoring record at such a young age, Arezo is clinical in front of goal. Boasting an xG of 0.41 and averaging 3.58 shots per game, the teen strike sensation was third highest in the division when it came to shots on goal, with 50% of those on target.

Although most of his efforts tend to come inside the box, what is really noteworthy is the sheer variation of finishes Arezo has in his locker. Whether it be smart instinctive shots, volleyed efforts or long-range drives, Arezo is capable of them all, making him a threat all over the final third.

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What’s more, despite not being the tallest (1.78m), Arezo is also surprisingly good in the air and has scored a number of headed efforts thanks to his excellent timing, anticipation and spring.

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Another of Arezo’s best qualities is his movement. Quick, clever and mature beyond his age, Arezo is constantly on the move, looking to get into pockets of space. By his own admission, Arezo said that he plays as a number nine but that he doesn’t like to stay still in one position and prefers to roam all across the final third.

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This mobility, coupled with his inexhaustible work rate, means that he keeps defenders constantly on their toes. From using his pace to make runs in behind and dragging them out of their comfort zone, to pressing and harrying them when they are in possession, Arezo is a very modern, relentless forward.

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Though still just shy of his 18th birthday, Arezo has a robust physique and the intelligence of how to use his body to protect the ball and when to bring others into play. As well as the maturity of his movement, this strength and hold-up play also add to the appearance of a more experienced striker and in this sense, he has drawn comparisons to Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero.

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To top off his already well-rounded technical and physical attributes, Arezo has a determined, focused and humble character and is always striving to improve and learn from around him. His current manager Fossati agrees, “I’ve seen many players with his qualities but another mindset. His qualities together with his mindset, I’ve seen very few”.

At such an early stage of any career, it’s unwise to make grand declarations, as there are so many variables that come into play in the next few years of his development. Nevertheless, there is something special about Arezo and, if all goes to plan, great things lie ahead.

 

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