Tom Harrison looks at Monterrey’s Colombian star, Edwin Cardona.
Who is Edwin Cardona?
Born on the 8th December 1992 in Medellín, Colombia, Cardona is a product of Medellín giants Atlético Nacional, who he was part of from 2006 to 2014, apart from two loan spells. He first got the attention of those outside of Colombia during the 2009 South American U-17 Championships when he was the top scorer in a competition that also included Philippe Coutinho.
Despite impressing in this competition, as well as the famous Toulon Tournament two years later, Cardona stayed in Colombia until the age of 22, scoring 41 times in 187 appearances across his time at Atlético Nacional and his two loan spells with Independiente Santa Fe and Junior FC. Edwin was also able to rack up three league titles in Colombia, two with Atlético Nacional and one with Santa Fe.
His move away abroad finally came during last season’s winter transfer period, as Mexican side Monterrey paid a reported £2.91m for his services. He’s since gone onto become a huge star in Mexico, scoring 14 times in 25 league games for “Los Rayados” (the striped ones), leading to Cardona receiving multiple national team call ups.
Style of Play, Strengths and Weaknesses
Cardona is the sort of player some would describe as being a “luxury”. Favouring a central attacking midfield role behind the striker (although recently he’s been put on the left for Monterrey to incorporate two strikers) Cardona isn’t a hard-worker, but he more than makes up for his lack of work ethic with his supreme technical ability. The Colombian roams around the pitch, looking for space so that he can receive the ball at his feet and then make things happen for his side.
Edwin’s main strength is an ability to score ridiculous goals, or golazos as they say in Mexico. His most famose goal came in the last minute of a game last season against Querétaro. As a new signing, Cardona struggled at first to get into the starting line-up, and was only sent on from the bench with a minute remaining during this match. With the score tied at 1-1, Edwin instantly received possession from a short free-kick, dribbled into the middle of the pitch and from about 25 yards out, rifled the ball into the top corner, giving Monterrey all three points in spectacular fashion. A place in the first team was his after this stunning winner.
Edwin’s other strengths include his fantastic dribbling ability and ball control, as well as a wide range of accurate passing, with the Colombian particularly capable of picking out and executing incisive through balls.
Cardona’s ability has certainly caught the eye of his national team manager Jose Pekerman, who recently likened him to their biggest star, James Rodríguez, saying “you cannot compare their games by the way he moves, but in the technical and conceptual aspects of football they are very similar.”
The most obvious weakness of the Colombian is his lack of work rate, leading him to go missing in some games. Not something one would want to criticise him too much for, as its part of his personality and style on the pitch, but he could get more involved sometimes. He’s also been accused of being too selfish at times; whilst he scores some incredible goals, he does miss some of his attempts on goal, when better options could have been selected.
There are some concerns with the physical aspect of his game as well. Cardona is not blessed with great pace and his height, 6’0”, means his movement isn’t particularly fluid, as Pekerman hinted at, and he’s sometimes unbalanced when taking on defenders, although his strength often makes up for this.
What does the future hold?
Despite impressing in Colombia and Mexico, there have been very few rumours linking Cardona to a move to Europe. But if he continues to cement a place in the Colombia national team I’d be very surprised if clubs in Europe don’t start to show an interest in the attacking midfielder.
As ever with talented players from Liga MX though, a sizeable fee will be needed to purchase Monterrey’s prized asset. Los Rayados, who are owned by beverage and retail giants FEMSA, seemingly have few financial worries and have just moved into a state of the art 51,800 seater stadium.
Considering the potential price tag, buying Cardona would represent a major risk for any club in Europe as his style of football may not be effective in European leagues where time and space is more limited than in Liga MX and Liga Águila.
However, if he were to adapt well to European football, he could become a major star. One cannot underestimate just how technically gifted the attacking midfielder is.
Considering his supreme talent, national team appearances and headline grabbing goals, he surely can’t be ignored by clubs in Europe for much longer, and if he can keep up his recent performance levels, expect to see the magical Colombian playing in Europe sometime soon. If this is the case he’ll be sorely missed in Mexico, not least by myself.
Written by Tom Harrison
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