Defender | FC Basel | Paraguay
The emergence of a talented youngster is synonymous with brazen comparisons with legends gone by. Enter Blas Riveros. I’m sorry, I mean the next Roberto Carlos - if you believe the hype. Yes, Blas Riveros is from South America and yes Blas Riveros is a left-back with attacking tendencies, but the next Roberto Carlos? Let’s not overhype the lad too much.
Our eagerness to dismiss comparisons with Roberto Carlos does not suggest that Blas Riveros is lacking the potential to thrive in European football, far from it in fact. Like all top modern day full-backs, the 20-year-old is a natural marauder, constantly seeking to support the attack by offering width on the overlap. That he started his career as a forward before converting to full-back can help to explain his style of play.
There is a top player underneath a relatively modest exterior, which could yet be prised out by a top manager. He’s first-choice left-back in one of Switzerland’s most successful outfits for very good reason, but he needs to refine the defensive aspects of his game if he wants to join a growing list of former Basel players who have gone on to excel in Europe.
2018 has been…
Verging on mediocre at best. Manchester City love scoring goals and hate conceding them, but one of Riveros’ highlights arrived at the Etihad Stadium this year. He provided the equalising goal for Mohamed Elyounoussi to level the scoreline in what effectively represented a damp squib second-leg tie, and his sturdy performance to nullify the threat of Bernardo Silva, something which many a Premier League defender has failed to achieve this season, was a pivotal component of a shock victory.
Aside from that standout performance, Riveros has failed to add another assist, but he has managed to get his name on the scoresheet on two occasions. For a player who is supposedly renowned for his quality in the final-third that’s a pretty underwhelming return. Is there another Roberto Carlos we’ve forgotten about?
Mo Salah, Granit Xhaka, Ivan Rakitic and Mohamed Elyounoussi more recently have all used Basel as a springboard from which to launch themselves onto a higher platform, so why not Blas Riveros? Well, there is absolutely no reason why he can’t earn a switch to one of Europe’s most prestigious divisions, but he will need to bide his time and fine-tune the defensive aspects of his game before making the step up.
At least one more full season in Switzerland should serve him well, but in one-two seasons time he would be wise to go in search of a fresh challenge; an environment to catalyse his development, surrounded by players of a higher quality than the ones which make up the Swiss Super League.
Perhaps Pep Guardiola will be tempted by the Paraguayan after his showing against Man City, perhaps Benjamin Mendy’s injury-stricken career and potentially disruptive character need replacing with a humble-minded prodigy.