21 Midfielder Porto Colombia
2014 has been...
The summer of 2013 saw AS Monaco attempting to quickly establish themselves as a superpower in European football just a few weeks after securing their promotion back into Ligue 1. The club, based in the principality of Monte Carlo, had grand ideas and the marquee signings of Radamel Falcao along with Porto pairing James Rodríguez and Joao Moutinho were supposed to fire them towards the French title or at least a place in the Champions League.
It worked. A second place finish in Ligue 1 secured a spot in the group stages of the Champions League, and a place at the top table of the game.
As for Porto, the summer was simply business as usual. The Portuguese side have developed their business model around making a lavish profit of some of the game’s most exciting young players. The reported €70 million that Monaco had shelled out for Rodríguez and Moutinho helped boost the bank balance of the club and fund a summer spending spree that included the captures of Diego Reyes, Hector Herrera, Carlos Eduardo and Nabil Ghilas. In amongst those purchases was the signing of Juan Quintero for a modest €5 million. In the next 18 months, Quintero will be yet another big payday for FC Porto; of that we are sure.
Quintero is a supremely capable footballer with a gifted left foot and wonderful vision. It’s a bit of a shame that he had to do battle with the aforementioned Rodríguez for the chance to pull the strings for Colombia at the World Cup. Instead, Quintero’s appearances were somewhat fleeting as the now Real Madrid star helped to inspire Colombia towards the quarter-finals of the competition. Thankfully, he’s got another two (possibly three) tournaments to look forward to.
Signed by Porto from Pescara and/or Atlético Nacional (we don’t pretend to fully understand how transfers work in South America) in the weeks after James’ departure for Monaco, Juan looked like a ready-made replacement for his compatriot. At the under-20 World Cup in Turkey, during the same summer that he moved to Portugal, Quintero was the mesmerising star of the show. His list of admirers got longer as he dazzled many of those watching on. He didn’t hurt at all that he happened to score the goal of the tournament while he was there.
Such performances for the youth sides along with a series of decent showings for Porto increased calls for Quintero to not only find a place in the Colombia squad but somewhere in the starting line-up. It was the same sort of ground-swell that accompanied James when he started to make his moves for Porto with Carlos Valderrama, the legendary former Colombia international, once again backing the calls for an exciting attacking player to be used. “What are they waiting for? Until he is 30 to call him? This player is ready!”
To the credit of Jose Pekerman we suggest he already had a plan in mind for integrating Quintero into the squad long before Valderrama got involved. Pekerman rates Juan very highly and gave him his first taste of senior action back in October 2012. Only of late though has he been a regular feature of the senior squad, with the preference being actually minutes for the younger squads as opposed to time on the bench with the senior side. Admittedly, Pekerman does have Rodríguez acting as his number 10 currently so it’s not like there is a gaping hole for the 21 year-old to fill.
Thankfully Quintero’s appearance against Ivory Coast in Brasília proved there is an argument to using both players in the line-up with Juan Cuadrado providing balance in a fluid attacking three behind any one of the clinical strikers that Colombia can choose from.
Juan was introduced with the game goalless and Rodríguez was shifted out to the left to allow Quintero to operate in familiar circumstances behind the striker. James scored the first before Quintero marked his World Cup debut with his first international goal, a calm finish into the bottom corner.
Quintero did get a start at the World Cup, in the final game of the group against Japan. The fact that he was replaced by Rodríguez, who then went on to produce a man of the match performance, highlights that there is still some work to be done before he can be considered the finished article.
The comparisons between Quintero and James won’t go away; not least because they are going to be turning out for the same national team for years to come and both completed their final years of development with Porto.
A gifted playmaker with an eye for a pass, a penchant for the fancy stuff and a desirable ability to execute exquisite free-kicks, Quintero is a star in the making.
Born in a sketchy neighbourhood of El Socorro, Quintero started his football career in a similar fashion to many other Colombian international. He caught the eye playing at the Pony Fútbol championship; three years above his actual age group.
Envigado, the same club where James Rodríguez made his professional debut, signed Juan and he worked his way through the ranks. His height was an initial stumbling block for some – he is barely 5ft 6 – and he was overlooked for a couple of Colombian youth teams as a result of concerns about his physical stature. However, Quintero didn’t allow such situations to derail his progression.
In 2012 he joined Atletico Nacional and then moved quickly on to Pescara in Italy before joining Porto last year. It was at Pescara that he started to draw in some suitors with a run of decent displays for the club and with the Colombia under-20 side at the South American Championships. Porto were the first of a long line to act and once they had snapped Quintero up, they slapped a €40 million clause in his contract.
To his credit, Juan sought the advice of the departed Rodríguez before moving to Portugal and was helped in his adaption by the fact that international team-mate Jackson Martinez had joined the club a year earlier. A goal on his debut helped things and Quintero has started to look really comfortable in his number 10 shirt in recent months.
As we mentioned, he’s not a complete player but he is getting very close, especially as his performances for Porto have started to get consistently good. He has a tendency to try too hard to make things happen, but we’ll chalk that off to youthful exuberance. Quintero is a scorer and provider of truly great goals and long may it continue.
"After a slow start to life in Portugal he's benefited from Lopetegui's incessant tinkering, and his rate of breathtaking assists (see against Sporting in the Taça) and net-busting strikes (against Braga) is expanding rapidly. Returning to the kind of form that earned him the move in the first place." - Ben Shave
"The Colombian scored one goal and one assist in just 92 minutes of action at the World Cup." - OptaJoe
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