Colombian Midfielder Gio Moreno Taking Argentina by Storm
Perhaps nowhere in the world is the position of playmaker more appreciated than in Argentina. While the traditional "No. 10" is almost a forgotten memory in Europe, in Argentina and South America, the position is still thriving.
Players like Juan Roman Riquelme, Marcelo Gallardo, Leandro Romagnoli, Ariel Ortega, Maxi Moralez and Andres D'Alessandro were never fully accepted in Europe, but are beloved in Argentina as a classic "enganches" or playmakers.
Now, however, there is a new No. 10 making splashes in Buenos Aires by way of Colombia, named Giovanni Moreno.
Moreno came to Racing Club of Avellaneda from Club Atletico Nacional in August and the lanky Colombian has been receiving plaudits ever since.
Colombians have made a great impression in Argentina over the years, with the likes of Oscar Cordoba, Juan Pablo Angel and Radamel Falcao being the most successful and Gio seems to be along the same road to stardom.
In just eight games, Moreno has registered five goals and has been the revelation of the Argentina Apertura. Although Racing is out of title contention, Moreno has become a hero for the club's long suffering fan base, that has seen just one trophy in 40 years.
It is not just the Racing fans that have fallen in love with Gio. It is journalists, players and even fans of other clubs that have been wowed by the Colombia International.
Juan Pablo Varsky, one of Argentina's most respected journalists, has placed Moreno amongst his favorite players at the moment, joining the likes of Riquelme, Lionel Messi and Mesut Ozil. Not bad company!
Riquelme has also lavished the ex-Nacional and Evigado man with praise, while opposing coaches have acknowledged they must place special attention on stopping Moreno.
What exactly makes a classic Argentine playmaker then?
The Argentine "enganche" plays behind the strikers in a 4-3-1-2 formation. This is the traditional system used by almost every team from amateur/youth levels to the senior national team.
The playmaker is the man who the game revolves around. He is the link between midfield and attack, but is also expected to contribute goals and fancy flicks and touches on the ball. Vision is arguably the most important attribute of a No. 10, as they must spot teammates making runs in order to try daring through-balls or chipped passes.
"In Europe, they stress the overall team and like to play 4-4-2," said former Boca Juniors and Argentina coach Alfio Basile. "In South America we love the individual talent, so we play 4-3-1-2, the "1" is the special player."
Whether that special player is Maradona, Bochini or Moreno, they are always guaranteed to be the most popular amongst the fans, assuming they do their job right.
Moreno looked a bit off the pace at first, as he struggled to adapt to the physical nature of the game in Argentina. Now, all of his immense qualities have shown through.
Perhaps nothing gets Argentine fans more excited than a nutmeg or a back-heel flick and Moreno has brought these imaginative plays, in addition to his goals and assists.
Sadly for Racing fans, big clubs from Europe are already seeking out "El Flaco," with Sevilla and Espanyol the two early front-runners.
Racing coach Miguel Angel Russo has laughed off interest from Europe, stating the player will remain at Racing for an "important time," while the player himself has also said he is content to stay in Avellaneda.
One thing is certain. We will see Gio in Europe sooner rather than later and if he continues his development, we could see Colombia back in the World Cup in 2014.
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