Name: Marcelo Meli
Club: Boca Juniors
Date of Birth: 20th June 1992
Position: Central midfield
Who is he?
Much like Jonathan Calleri, Cesar Marcelo Meli was snapped up by Boca Juniors in the aftermath of being relegated with their former clubs at the end of the Torneo Final 2014 and has since seen their reputation and their value grow exponentially in La Bombonera. With Boca Juniors’ ambitious transfer plans in this window there is a chance that they will need to cash in on these assets and so Meli could be en route to Europe.
Meli hails from the small city of Salto in the north of the Buenos Aires province and although his initial footballing education took place at Club Sports Salto he was soon moving a little further north to play in the youth divisions of Rosario based side, Club Atletico Jorge Griffa. From here, his journey continued along the Rio Parana to Colon de Santa Fe in 2011 and it did not take long for young Meli to catch the eye.
After a string of impressive performances in the reserves, Meli was quickly brought into the first team by Roberto Sensini and made his debut away to Independiente towards the end of the 2012 Inicial.
Gradually Meli grew into one of Colon’s key players and alongside Ezequiel Videla in central midfield the two stood out in spite of the club’s struggles. The 2014 ultimately ended in failure and after relegation was confirmed, a tearful Meli said: “We did everything possible and we failed. It is an incredible sadness.”
The Primera sides had seen enough and as Videla departed for Racing, Boca moved swiftly for Meli. Colon received $750,000 for 50% ownership of Meli and sent talented youngster Cristian Pavon on loan to Santa Fe as part of the deal but initially under Carlos Bianchi, Meli struggled to hold down a first team place in La Bombonera.
Since Rodolfo Arruabarrena arrived as Boca coach, Meli has seen his status improve and he has established himself as a key part of the midfield. Meli’s boundless energy provides a good balance alongside Fernando Gago and Boca have enjoyed something of a renaissance.
Their Libertadores challenge unfortunately ended in controversy when they were kicked out as a result of crowd trouble but they remain very much in the mix for the Primera title.
What type of player?
Meli is a box-to-box central midfielder and his tireless running has been well complimented by veteran Fernando Gago playing in the number five role. While Gago can operate in front of the defence and look for passes, Meli’s dynamism in the centre can provide an outlet and help in linking the midfield to the attack.
A busy midfielder, Meli is something of an all-rounder, who tracks back and tackles on the edge of his own penalty area but enjoys breaking forward from deep to join the attack.
His range of passing is perhaps something that could be improved as is his protection of the ball and knowing when to maintain possession, but this season the 22-year-old has added an increased goal threat to his game.
A match-winning brace away to Huracan gave Boca a valuable three points as they find themselves just a point off the league leaders at the half way point.
That may well depend on Boca and with such ambitious and expensive transfer plans, Meli may well be sacrificed. Bringing Carlos Tevez back to La Bombonera or renewing a deal for Daniel Osvaldo will not come cheap and Argentina is certainly not swimming in cash.
In Marcelo Meli, Boca have a 22-year-old midfielder, who was bought for a comparatively low fee and would represent a considerable profit if they were to hawk him to interested European clubs.
The likes of Benfica, AC Milan, Roma and Valencia have all made tentative approaches to Boca over the past year according to the press and if it were obvious he was available they would likely be joined by more.Published 20 Jun 2015, 23:29 IST