Scout Report: Marlos Moreno - The Colombian teenager wanted by Pep Guardiola
Pacy, powerful, and intelligent - Is Moreno the X-factor Pep Guardiola is looking for to elevate Man City?
After the initial round of matches got over in the Copa Libertadores 2016, a 19-year-old winger from Colombian side Atletico Nacional stood out among a plethora of talented players from a continent known for players with flair. Atletico Nacional won all of their first 3 matches and Marlos Moreno had scored in all of them. The nature of those goals had tongues of the pundits wagging – the youngster showcased a rare sense of conviction and precision in finding the back of the net.
It was only natural that his progress would be keenly followed by the numerous scouts in the continent who give feedback to some of the biggest clubs in Europe. It looks like Moreno’s talents have found appreciation with one of the best managers in the game in Pep Guardiola who want the Colombian on the rolls at Manchester City.
Born on 20th September 1996 in the 2nd largest city in Colombia, Medellin, Moreno naturally joined Atletico Nacional’s youth team at the age of 14. He quickly rose through the ranks and made his first team debut in October 2014 at the age of 18. On the back of impressive goalscoring performances, he soon established himself in the first team before getting called up to the national team in March 2016. He came on as a substitute for Juan Cuadrado against Bolivia in a World Cup Qualifier and immediately created an impact. He went on to set up Edwin Cardona’s last minute winner in the match.
He was also a part of the Colombian squad that finished 3rd in the Copa America Centenario held in June 2016. He scored his first international goal in a 2-3 loss to Costa Rica in a group game.
Marlos Moreno is predominantly a winger who can also play as a striker or an inside forward occasionally. Moreno can play across the front 3 and is comfortable on both the wings. The 5’7” teenager loves to cut in from the wings, especially from the left wing onto his right foot.
Very strong despite his stature and a good dribbler, Moreno can be a nightmare to defend against when he gets going.
Pace and Acceleration: One of the defining and most noticeable attributes about Moreno is the fact that he has got pace to burn. To top that, he has a burst of acceleration that sees him comfortably gain a yard on the defender in the blink of an eye. The fact that he can outrun his defender while not losing his balance and show off a trick or two in the process makes him an entertaining player to watch.
Link up play and movement: Not only can Moreno run fast, he can also play link up play at pace – a very difficult skill that defenders hate to be up against. He often plays one-twos on the run and creates spaces for himself and his teammates. His movement across the pitch is also very intelligent, often pulling defenders out of position. He has showcased a keen awareness of the game so far which is very impressive for a 19-year-old.
One-on-Ones: He is lethal in one-on-one situations and has the ability to tear an isolated defender apart ruthlessly which is one of the reasons he is highly rated in South America.
Versatility: As mentioned above, he is very versatile across the front 3. He can play off the main striker and on the wings. He also drifts across and can be a pain to track or mark. He is also strong and very difficult to muscle off the ball.
Selfishness: Moreno has the tendency to show his selfish nature at times which might result in him trying to do things on his own, ending up losing the ball or wasting a chance. He has been guilty of ignoring better-placed teammates plenty of times in his Atletico Nacional career. He needs to learn when to pass and when to go for it alone. Again, this is a trait which is very common among South American players. As he plays more in the top leagues in organised systems, he will only improve this facet of his game.
European experience: Moreno is still unproven in a high-level league like in Europe, having only played in the Colombian Liga Aguila. He is too raw for the English Premier League (if City do sign him) and might take some time to adapt. Which is why a loan move to Spain or Portugal is being mooted for the starlet after signing for City. It will also help him acclimatise better to England.
When Pep Guardiola signed a relatively unknown Kingsley Coman and Douglas Costa for Bayern Munich, nobody would have thought they would go on to perform like they ended up doing. This signing also has the potential to be another Pep masterstroke. Plus, the fee being mentioned is around the £10million mark, which experts in South America reckon is a bargain for Moreno. The teenager benefitted a lot due to a coach (Reinaldo Rueda) who loves to develop youth at his current club and if this move materialises, he will find that Pep Guardiola is also an admirer of young prodigies and specialises in developing them.
He may not make an impact in the City first team immediately, thanks to the plethora of attacking talent they have, but has the ability to be a real star for them if he maintains his focus and works on his game.