Goalkeeper | Millonarios | Venezuela
Goalkeepers are rare on this list. They suffer here because they simply don’t get a chance to play until they’re well into their 20s - and IBWM 100 lists don’t stretch that far.
But some do make the grade, blossoming early and that’s the case with Wuilker Farinez.
He established himself early. Three years ago at the age of just 17, Farinez became the first choice at his hometown club of Caracas FC. And while the Venezuelan league isn’t known as much of a powerhouse, we’re not talking about some lower league outfit - Caracas are the biggest and most successful club in the country.
Three years and well over 80 appearances later, the young keeper was transferred to Colombian club Millonarios where he is currently the number one - again, in one of the most successful teams in the country.
At under 6ft, Thibaut Courtois would be looking down his nose - literally and figuratively - at Farinez, but what he lacks in height he makes up for in nimbleness and agility. If you think goalkeepers can’t be spectacular, you haven’t watched Wuilker!
2018 Has Been…
... Very exciting.
South American football is clearly not where the best players want to be plying their trade, but experience is key for goalkeepers and Farinez is getting plenty of it.
International call ups came in 2017 and he is part of a very exciting crop of Venezuelan youngsters, who reached the final of the U20 World Cup where they lost to a Dominic Calvert-Lewin goal and watched England lift the trophy.
But since then Farinez has had a fantastic 2018 by any standard. Six months after that heartbreak, he made his move to Millonarios where he is a crucial part of the team and where he bagged his first trophy - the Colombian league - and has played in the Copa Libertadores.
There’s simply no rush for Farinez, who should be more than content to bide his time and gain as much experience as possible.
We all know that goalkeepers don’t mature until later, and we know that the position is as much about the mental aspects of the trade as it is about the reflexes and the camera saves - probably more so.
A move to a European club will certainly be on the horizon if he continues to star in South America’s top clubs, but you’d like to think he’ll stay on his native continent for a little while longer, leaving for one of the Big Five leagues only when he’s a more established presence in world football.