Chicago Fire Technical Director Sebastian Pelzer went to Columbia on a scouting trip in the summer of 2020 and saw a defender named Carlos Terran.
16-year-old striker John Duran was hard to spot on his way to goal for Envigado FC.
Durán made his professional debut in August 2019 at just 15 years old, becoming the second youngest goalscorer in the history of Colombia’s top league and was rapidly setting up the Colombian youth national team.
A few months later, at a pivotal moment, Chicago made Duran the youngest foreign player in MLS history, paying around $2 million (£1.64 million). This despite the fact that he would have to spend a year at Envigado, the club where Colombian internationals Juan Fernando Quintero and James Rodriguez started their careers, before being eligible to play for Chicago. was.
Now 19, and after just a year in MLS, Duran is heading to Aston Villa for a fee of around $18m (£14.8m). Contracts are covered by medical care, players agree to personal terms and obtain the necessary work visas.
That’s a big price to pay for someone who’s just starting to shine in Chicago after a relatively slow start to life in America.
However, recruiting young strikers is difficult due to the current global shortage of good players compared to other positions.
19-year-old Benjamin Sesco is a perfect example. The Slovenian has been rated as one of Europe’s most promising young players and at the end of this season he moved from Austrian sister club Red Bull to Germany’s RB he Leipzig. Joining with a contract worth approximately $25.9 million.
This is not to say Villa was forced Resolve For Duran, he has very impressive athleticism and a record in Colombia, showing great form heading into the end of the 2022 MLS season and showing potential to go far. has achieved a lot in rapid succession and has already been capped three times.
He arrived in Chicago early last year and Chicago Fire had relatively low expectations.
The plan worked largely as expected. Durán in his first four months of the season he started only three games and was sometimes run out on the wing. In those matches he seemed raw and a little out of his depth, as you would expect from a young player in a new league, new country, new position.
But when Durán finally came out in ninth, we could see the potential Peltzer discovered two years ago. He scored his two goals against Toronto in July and his five in his last five games with the club.
Those games were 10 wins in 34 games in the 14-team Eastern Conference, and even the team that finished bottom 3 saw Duran rushing into space in transition and posing a real threat behind their opponents’ backs. It shows that you are at your best when you do. line.
This goal against Cincinnati on October 2 We emphasize the above qualities.
Cincinnati’s back line was too pushed trying to find a way back into the game at 2-0 down, and a turnover in midfield left too much space for Duran to take advantage of, so he took the lead. lifted the ball over the goalkeeper. dominate the game.
first goal of the day His second was similar.
Duran stripped the center back and Cincinnati’s highline was punished with a simple through ball. Durán’s speed is too fast for the Cincinnati defense, and they finish easily.
The majority of Duran’s MLS goals have been scored in this manner, and it’s unlikely the Premier League will give him that much space.
Durán needs to show that he can shoot and score goals in tighter spaces, not just by jumping into space in transition, but by working with his teammates. His size (6 ft 1 in / 186 cm) should also prove useful in set pieces.
In reality, Villa is signing a young player who is still developing. But what can punish a team playing on the high line.
Duran has a lot of work to do, and paying such a high price will set him on the back of expectations unlike anything he’s ever seen in his career.
“Not only is he physically interesting, especially considering his age, but technically he’s really good in front of goal, good in the box, smart and quick on his feet. Raw talent though. , is really talented,” said Georg Heights, Chicago’s sports director. athletic January 2021.
Chicago knew Duran would have limited time with them, but expectations around the club were that the sale was likely to take place in the summer. He is expected to play for the Colombia U-20 at this month’s South American Championship, which will be held at his home stadium, and hoped his impressive performance in that competition would fuel a bidding war.
It turned out that the timing of that competition brought the offer sooner than expected, and it was frowned upon to earn this kind of charge in just 14 starts and 1,365 minutes.
Executives at Chicago and its rivals hope Durán can justify the price Villa pays and help open up more of the pipeline of young players from Latin American countries.
A deal like this makes MLS a viable destination for sending young players to Europe, not just Americans and Canadians.
(Photo above: Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
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