Dan Davis has a look at Carlos Soler, Valencia’s young midfielder making waves in La Liga.
Spain have always been a nation blessed with a seemingly endless supply of classy midfielders. The most recent golden trio in the middle of the park, Xavi, Iniesta and Sergio Busquets, have allowed their team mates to dominate games and reside as kings over the international stage. However, there is no denying that Iniesta and Busquets are entering their twilight oastears (with Xavi at the end of his career), and will need to be replaced eventually. Carlos Soler, Valencia’s exciting prospect, could be the answer to this.
Who is Carlos Soler?
Carlos Soler is a 20-year-old midfielder, born in Valencia, Spain. He first made his breakthrough in football by joining his hometown club’s youth set-up in 2005. Joining at the age of eight, he was played all across the pitch in an effort from his coaches to find his most natural position. Initially, Soler was fielded as a striker, but was quickly withdrawn into an attacking midfield role. After impressing in spells there, he was finally played as a central midfielder, where he was given time to prove his natural prowess.
After impressing regularly with his dominating performances in the middle of the park, Soler continued to progress through Valencia’s youth ranks, before finding himself in the senior reserve team. He made his debut for the reserves in May 2015, as he started in central midfield against Segunda Division B side, UE Cornella. Despite the 1-0 loss, Soler impressed both fans and coaches alike, proving himself adept at controlling the tempo of a game.
Although often being played in a more withdrawn role, Soler grabbed himself his first reserves goal in December 2015, as he scored his team’s second in a 2-2 draw with CF Badalona. The following year, in March, Soler renewed his contract and was rewarded with a substitute role in Valencia’s UEFA Europa League clash with Athletic Bilbao. Despite being an unused substitute, it was becoming clear that the creative midfielder would soon become part of his club’s senior plans.
Finally, on December 10th 2016, Soler was granted his first-team debut for Valencia, as he was substituted on during a 3-2 defeat away to Real Sociedad. A string of impressive performances saw the young midfielder help turn around his side’s poor run of form, and he even grabbed his first senior goal in January, hitting the back of the net against Villarreal.
Despite only scoring three goals in 22 appearances for Valencia’s senior team so far, Soler promises to be one to watch out in this season. If he proves himself capable and continues to demonstrate his talents, it is likely he will be featuring regularly in Spain’s midfield in the near future.
What is his Style of Play?
Carlos Soler is a very quick and direct player, who will often be found roaming in the midfield waiting to be picked out with a pass. His nature is to receive the ball and drive into the heart of the opposition, using his deft touches and good vision to push forward Valencia’s forays into attacking areas. His preferred role is as an attacking midfielder, as this allows him plenty of opportunities to bring the ball forward and fashion chances for his teammates. He also has an impressive amount of strength, and uses this to his advantage as he is able to hold off challenges and retain possession during attacks.
Soler is also tactically aware, which ensures he is always in dangerous positions. Despite Valencia regularly fielding Soler in an advanced position, he isn’t afraid to drop deep to look for possession. He is technically gifted, and when he receives the right pass in midfield, can spray the ball to the flanks or bring counter-attacks forward.
What are his Strengths?
He holds an impressive amount of pace, and can be seen using this time and time again to transition from defence to attack. Soler’s ability to play passes short or long, and also to drive forward through an opponent’s defence, means that he is incredibly unpredictable. Despite being 6ft and having a relatively slender build, Soler is deceptively strong, and uses this ability to hold up the ball and dictate the pace of his team’s attacks. His awareness of the game does allow him to change the tempo of the game at any moment, and this allows Soler to spark the majority of Valencia’s counter-attacks when he is on the field.
Despite Soler seeming to favour being played in an attacking midfield role, he does have a certain degree of tactical flexibility. This means that Valencia have fielded him in deeper-lying midfield positions, where he would be expected to maintain his team’s defensive structure, as well as contribute to Valencia’s forays forward. Soler is also capable of playing in a wider attacking role, where he impressed in his side’s 3-1 away victory at Granada earlier this year.
What are his Weaknesses?
Despite Carlos Soler’s seemingly limitless potential, it is important to remember he is only 20 years of age and is susceptible to mistakes. His scintillating forward movements are a stark contrast to his clumsiness at defending, and the potential for him to make rash challenges and concede unwanted set-pieces. When it comes to defending corners and free-kicks, Soler must ensure he is commanding and decisive in the future, to prevent placing his team in any danger because of hesitation or a lapse in concentration.
As is the case with many young players wanting to make an impression, Carlos Soler is partial to picking out the wrong type of ball, or not releasing a pass at all. To make any counter-attack successful, the passing must be concise and pinpoint, and Soler has the capacity to not thread passes through at the right time, meaning that some moves have broken down. If he works on his decision-making, then he will be more than capable of providing Valencia’s strikers with the service they need to fire their team to a higher league finish this time round.
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