Igor Lichnovsky 19 Defender Universidad de Chile Chile
2013 has been…
Speculative. Previously he’d nearly signed for Inter after a bid worth roughly £2m had been agreed mid-2012, but that had fallen through along with various other stories coming to nothing throughout the year. 2013 began with him being linked to AC Milan and according to his agent Alejandro Santisteban “numerous (other) Italian clubs”. He was also featuring heavily on Bayer Leverkusen’s scouting reports and on the radars of half of La Liga. As the year has progressed he’s been repeatedly linked with transfers to various leagues in Europe, Chelsea ‘monitoring’ him in that way that brings to mind a spying operation rather than a bloke watching him play, and an on then off then on then off then definitely on and then resoundingly off move to Getafe just confused everyone.
So why all the fuss? Well, Igor Lichnovsky is a really good player and really good players tend to get this sort of thing. He has impressed since making his debut as a central defender in 2011 but has been used sparingly domestically – just over thirty first-team appearances at the time of writing – something which sits at odds with the column inches generated in his name. Most of this speculation comes from his consistently excellent performances for Chile at U20 level where he’s also scored a couple of goals.
When given the chance he has proven to be an elegant, agile defender comfortable on the ball in the manner of a Rio Ferdinand or Gerard Pique. He may not be quite at the level of a Marquinhos yet, but who is? Naturally tall and quick, he has already proved have an understanding of the game that goes beyond his relative inexperience. This season has begun in good form and in the nature of the last, but he’s now starting games regularly and so has the run he needs to live up to the hype.
The big move - it has to come. No one can be linked to this many clubs and not eventually jump and why wouldn’t he? The bright lights and more importantly, the pound notes of European football are calling. He looks built for the more technical side to us and there are very few La Liga clubs that he wouldn’t realistically improve by joining. The move may come as soon as January and we think he’s ready, another year of speculation will do little to endear him to his team-mates or his domestic media.
He is young and impetuous, a recent comment to the press about a derby game against historical rivals Universidad Católica being nowhere near as important as any time they played Colo-Colo caused a storm, and then did nothing but spur Católica to victory. He’s also prone to a yellow card, typically a result of persistent fouling or a particularly mistimed challenge, but these are rough edges that will be knocked off with experience.
Chalk up anything in the minus column to his youth and keep an eye on him. 2014 should bring him both a move and a promotion to the full international squad at some point. A very interesting player and a thoroughly modern central-defender, could and should go far.
"Lichnovsky is finishing the year the way he started it by putting in assured displays in centre of defence. The 19-year-old is sure of his qualities: reading of the game, timing in the tackle and confidence in possession. He is strong in the air but in need of a greater physical presence to succeed when he gets his move to Europe, which will be sooner rather than later." – Joel Sked, Lone Star Chile
C If he stays fit the transfer is imminent. Good but maybe not great, time to live up to the hype