Mauro Caballero 19 Striker Porto Paraguay
2013 has been…
Mauro Caballero is the son of a former international striker of the same name. As such, it was of little surprise that he showed an immediate interest and ability at the beautiful game. By the tender age of just eight, he was being recruited into academies and nurtured as a forward.
Following in the footsteps of Mauro Caballero Senior, the teenage Paraguayan has already notched up stints at two of his dad’s former clubs; Olimpia and then Club Libertad, when he spent close to six years in the youth squads. Caballero made instantaneous impacts at almost every level, scoring goals by the hatful as he drew more and more plaudits as a young striker.
As mentioned, Mauro Junior has been earmarked as an exciting prospect since the day he started playing football and just a month after being named on The 100 for 2013, he completed a move to FC Porto. Very much a player for the future, it was of little surprise to see the Portuguese giants move early while others still wanted to assess Caballero.
That said; it is a shame that Mauro isn’t playing regular first team football in South American and getting more chances to impress in the Copa Libertadores. It was in said competition with a key goal for Libertad that Mauro first announced himself as a threat at senior level. However, Caballero let his youth deal with the Paraguayan club expire in September 2012 when their offer on a new deal failed to match his (nor his father’s) valuation of his worth. Lawyers were eventually required to iron out the deal and sort out a measly transfer fee of just €325,000; an affordable risk for FC Porto to take.
Constantly busy, Caballero is a pain for defenders to track and mark. He’s doesn’t remain still and is always looking for a gap to dash into. At 19, he knows the runs to make and constantly puts himself into positions to pounce on rebounds and deflections. Constantly compared to Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez, the pair have matching aerial prowess. Caballero has counteracted his lack of height by working on his heading skills. So much so that getting on the end of crosses is perhaps his biggest strength.
However, the last 12 months have been a huge disappointment. Stuck in the Porto reserves, Mauro is improving his game but he hasn’t scored enough to warrant even a token place on the bench.
Mauro made his first team debut over two years ago; and has been growing as a player ever since. He’s hardly been an unknown prospect in Paraguayan football in recent years. Goals in the Paraguayan league and the Copa Libertadores have helped peak interest in him and as such, there is much expectation surrounding the young striker.
Most are happy observing his development for now, trying to back off and let him work on his game. Being a nuisance will only get him so far; and as such, he has the chance to use his time in the Porto B side to improve his all-round game.
The plan is that he’ll emerge as one of Paraguay’s greatest ever strikers. He is seen as the heir to Roque Santa Cruz in the national team (ignoring Oscar Cardozo and/or Lucas Barrios) and his crown is being readied. Should Porto continue to sell their prized strikers, as has been the norm of the last few years, Caballero’s chance will come and it’ll be on him to take it.
At Club Libertad, he was used in a selection of positions, including as the number 10, and he managed to look competent. However, his future doesn’t lie anywhere other than as the leading front-man so those experiments are best ended now.
"Hmmm. Not convinced that he'll be able to step up. Paraguay aren't in great shape but youngsters Sanabria and Romero look better prospects. Could easily disappear." - Jeff Livingstone, IBWM
D If he uses this time smartly now, Caballero can be one of Europe’s most feared strikers within four years just like Falcao and Martinez before him