Leandro Paredes 19 Midfielder Boca Juniors Argentina
2013 has been…
Interrupted. Tipped up as the next big thing by those with a blue and yellow leaning, this year was supposed to be a big one. He initially impressed, typically showing a maturity and touch beyond his tender years as well as a good level of aggression to his game, but then a prodigal son’s return saw him lose his starting place and then a training ground injury caused by a team-mate’s bad challenge has seen him spend the better part of the year on the sidelines.
At the time of writing he’s just returned to the first team and is already looking good, a goal against Tigre and a rapturous reception from the Boca fans to his every touch in the same game particularly encouraging, but he will need patience to recover fully from a particularly nasty injury (the words ‘snapped’ and ‘ligament’ are never good when placed near each other). If nothing else the absence will have helped build his character, whatever doesn’t kill you etc. 2013 has gone and has largely been one to forget due to the absence, let’s all look forward to 2014 and starting again.
Firstly, continued expectation. It is impossible to be an elegant attacking midfielder playing for Boca Juniors without making a heart or three flutter. After all, the pedigree is enough to make anyone with more than just a passing interest in the game feel a bit fizzy. If you couple that with a nice touch, some lovely goals, some even better assists and the ability to occasionally pull off the extravagant, you may as well accept the lad’s carrying a weight of expectation 99% of footballers could never hope to live up to.
We won’t say the ‘M’ word because nobody is on that level as far as we’re concerned and the comparison to a 19-year old is ridiculous. The player he’s most often compared to is team-mate Juan Román Riquelme and in truth, they’re no smaller football boots to fill. When you see him play the reasons to draw lines between the two are obvious as they both have that head up, glide across the grass style we’re all a little bit in love with. Playing together the similarities are particularly noticeable and while we thoroughly recommend watching Riquelme while you still can anyway, getting to see his possible heir play alongside him is an added bonus.
Playing with and learning from Riquelme is a hell of an education and like fellow 100-er Bernard’s apprenticeship served under Ronaldinho, it can’t help but give you hope for the player’s future. This year has been difficult but he’ll come back stronger for it we’re sure, a C is for the football he played up until the injury and then reflective of the time missed. He has it all but as ever with a player of this type, he needs to turn potential into consistency. Hopefully he’ll now progress and take over his mentor’s first team place - will he eventually eclipse El Torero? We’re not sure anyone could if we’re being honest but who knows, he does have more of a chance than most.
“Whenever he rolls his foot over the ball and flicks it to a colleague with the outside of that right boot, you just can’t help but get all starry eyed over the aesthetic resemblance to Riquelme. A serious injury –suffered, bizarrely, at the hands of teammate Agustin Orion in training – has curtailed his development over a year that should have seen him deputising for Boca’s aging enganche. We’re still waiting, but boy is there a lovely player somewhere in there.” – Rupert Fryer, southamericanfootball.co.uk
“Hard to say much about him this year; in February, Juan Román Riquelme's return to Boca's squad pushed him out at the start of what was going to be his first campaign in Boca's number 10 shirt; so far in the Torneo Inicial, he's been hit by a major injury caused by his own goalkeeper in a training session which has ruled him out for the whole season up until a couple of weeks ago. He's still very young, though, so hope is not lost.” – Sam Kelly, Hasta El Gol Siempre
C- Gets a mulligan this year due to the injury, was coming along really nicely before, time to start again