Josh Sippie takes a look at Colombian international Marlos Moreno, whose Spanish education will make or break his chances at the Etihad.
Manchester City’s youth set-up has quite the array of promising young talents. Pep Guardiola was always keen on giving young stars a chance when he was the recipient of the star farm that is La Masia. But still, when you look at the senior side’s attack and consider all the weapons that they have, it’s plain to see that breaking into that first team set up would be next to impossible.
Meanwhile, Colombia’s international outfit has boasted some serious attacking threats in the recent past, and currently maintains the likes of Juan Cuadrado, Carlos Bacca and James Rodriguez, all of whom play at the highest level of club football.
The combination of being both Colombian and of Manchester City has success written all over it, and it’s helped out by the enormous skill set that young Colombian international Marlos Moreno boasts. Not just that, but his ability to play all across the front of the formation allows his coaches a great deal of versatility in deploying him.
Moreno will be spending the year on loan with La Liga side Girona, where the name of the game is one thing – minutes.
Who is Marlos Moreno?
Moreno was born on 20 September, 1996 in Medellín, Colombia. It was there, in his home town, that he began his footballing career, joining Medellín’s own Atletico Nacional at the age of 14 in 2010. The Categoria Primeria A powerhouse club gave Moreno his first senior appearance in 2014 in the Copa Colombia.
Moreno made his first huge impact the following year in 2015 when he helped drive Atletico Nacional to the championship, winning the Torneo Finalización thanks to his goal in the 30th second that leveled the aggregate score and forced penalties, which Atletico Nacional won 3-2. It was the fastest goal in club history.
Early in the following season, Moreno was purchased by Manchester City for a fee of £4.75m, and was immediately sent out on loan to Deportivo La Coruna. He made 23 appearances for the La Liga side before returning to the Spanish top flight the following year, this time joining Girona on loan.
Internationally, Moreno has started to make himself known. He made his debut for Colombia at just 20 years of age, and set up an 85th minute winner during that same outing. He would go on to score his first goal, the deciding goal no less, in a 3-2 win over Costa Rica in the Copa America Centenario.
What is his Style of Play?
It’s always nice when a young player takes on a similar playing style of a veteran countryman, because it makes explaining his style of play easier. Think fellow Colombian Juan Cuadrado. Marlos Moreno is cut from the same cloth as the speedy attacker, although he will no doubt hope that his Premier League career fares better than Cuadrado’s did at Chelsea.
Moreno is a speed merchant who makes tight spaces look like a fun park. It’s easy to find players who excel in open space. Everyone does. But Moreno’s ability to navigate tight spaces with blazing acceleration in small windows and corridors makes him stand out from other pacey attackers.
But for as pacey as he is, he it also a thinker. Moreno can be seen lingering over the ball at times, deep in contemplation over what his next move will be, and that next move often involves finding what little space is available and tight-roping through it.
He is crafty in all aspects of the game. In front of the net, he is a competent finisher who can also be found slipping a backheel pass to a team mate for an easy assist.
Moreno is also one of those attackers that is a joy to watch because of the pressure he puts on opposing defenses. There is no off switch for the Colombian, and his ability to anticipate often puts him in position to cause a great deal of stress to opposition players near their own danger zone.
What are his Strengths?
Moreno is a man of many strengths, but you can’t watch him without first appreciating how quickly he hits top speed. As mentioned in his style of play, it’s amazing to see him burst around defenders, making them look tragically flat-footed. They aren’t. They are professional footballers too, it’s just that Moreno’s acceleration puts him in a league of his own. The best part is that he is well-aware of how much of a tool this acceleration is and wields it incredibly well.
This pairs well with his dribbling ability, although for Moreno, dribbling is certainly his second choice. He makes simply bursting around defenders look so easy that it isn’t always necessary to show off his fancy footwork, but it is there, and it is certainly a strength of his game. It helps him navigate those tight spaces when he has attracted the attention of more than one defender.
His anticipation has to rank in as his third strength, as he is very intelligent when pressing opposing defenses. He doesn’t just blindly sprint at the man with the man with the ball, he tries (and often succeeds) to sniff out the next move and beat the opponent to it. This also works in tandem with his passing game and his movement off the ball, as he is a key piece of the interplay of his team.
Moreno’s determination is his final strength, and it’s what ties all of his other sub-strengths together. While his quick-burst acceleration, his anticipation and interplay make him stand out as an attacker, all of that would be slightly dulled if he didn’t have the determination and undying work ethic that he does.
What are his Weaknesses?
The only thing that Moreno really lacks is refinement. It’s not that his game has any glaring weaknesses, he just needs to hone all his skills a bit more in order to truly set himself apart from everyone else, and that usually just takes time.
His talent alone landed him a move to Manchester City, now he needs to use these loans to La Liga sides to prove that he can be a consistent member on the score sheet, because that is the end goal of every attacker.
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