21 Midfielder Dynamo Kiev Paraguay
Paraguayan winger Derlis González finished his youth career at Ruben Ñu, where he had become the youngest ever player when he made his debut at the age of 15. He moved to Benfica in Portugal in 2012 but never played first team football for the club, being sent out on loan twice before his “other owners” moved him on to Swiss giants FC Basel in May 2014.
González only played 25 Swiss Super League games for Basel last season but he was a regular in Europe, earning himself a reputation not dissimilar to that of Mohamed Salah.
2015 has been…
Impressive but not flawless. His Champions League campaign ended with a record of three goals (one winner, one consolation and one in the thick of a 4-0 win) in eight appearances for Basel, a not inconsiderable contribution. Basel won the Swiss title and finished as runners-up in the Swiss Cup but González and the medal around his neck weren’t long for the club.
He signed for Dynamo Kiev in July, perhaps the most notable development of what was a busy summer. Having made his Paraguay debut in March 2014 he was named in their Copa America 2015 squad and certainly made his presence felt. He scored the winning penalty in their quarter-final match but ended July with a torn muscle in his right leg.
He soon found fitness and a place in the Dynamo team, scoring his first goal – a peach, by the way – in October. He’s since scored once more in the league and yet again in the Champions League, winning plaudits along the way.
González is the classic low centre of gravity player – just a shift of his weight can take him out of trouble. He cuts in well from the left and is more than willing to find the space to have a right-footed shot from distance. He plays high and wide, often hugging the left touchline, and he’s not immune to being caught offside despite having the whole line to view.
He has a bit of fancy footwork – a nifty stepover and a saucy shimmy – and he uses it well, creating the room to glide past opponents. His final ball is often decent but not quite reliable enough to be a constant threat, although he does command a lot of defensive attention.
He has very smart awareness. For example, he’ll often peel off the back post into space rather than attacking it and it’s not always picked up. That’s the González modus operandi in a nutshell: he is a clever, suave, skilful player with a lovely first touch and a good defensive work ethic.
González is already beginning to establish himself at international level and on the European stage but there are aspects of his game that need sharpening. His ambition in possession is potentially dangerous but too often leads to decisions that relinquish the ball unnecessarily. Often his routine consists of brilliantly beating one opponent, trying to do too much and being blocked by a second.
His passing is sometimes wayward and he can hang on to the ball a little too long; sometimes his dawdling on the ball is too big a risk. Nevertheless, González is an exciting prospect and he’s worth keeping an eye on. He can score and create, which is what counts, but he can also entertain.
B Goals in the Champions League, a Swiss championship medal and an impact at Copa America
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