“This boy is serious, it seems”, that’s how Mundo Deportivo introduced the 16-year-old Uruguayan last week. ‘This boy’, called Juan Manuel Sanabria, is believed to be monitored by Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United. But who actually is Uruguay’s proposed new wonder kid. UruguayanHeroes takes a look.

A versatile leader.

Being born in 2000, Sanabria really is part of the new generation. Except Sanabria isn’t just a part of it, he is one of Uruguay’s leading players in this age class. His captaincy of Uruguay U17 at just 16 years of age should say so. In the sky blue of Uruguay, El Maguito, as he is nicknamed, plays as one of the two holding midfielders. Uruguay U17 normally take the field with a system which contains a ‘doble cinco’.

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The line-ups have been created in the iOS app Lineup11.

The two circled positions (sorry for the drawing) show the ‘doble cinco’. Certainly in a 4-2-3-1 formation, these two holding midfielders are extremely important in order to keep the balance in the team. The position Sanabria utilises for Uruguay, however, isn’t alike the one he has at his club Nacional. For the Tricolores, Sanabria plays in the U16 team. This team plays in a 4-3-3 system, wherein the teenager is mostly fielded as a left winger. The variety of positions Sanabria can take on, shows great versatility and will be music to the ears of Uruguay manager Oscar Tabárez. I know, it’s still a long way to go.

What does the future hold?

The 16-year-old also is captain for his club side, which shows he has some leadership qualities in him. These and other qualities were also noticed by English giants Liverpool, as Sanabria and his teammate Agustin Pereira were invited for a trial at The Reds in July 2015. He wasn’t signed, but he made a great impression. Recent reports, led by Mundo Deportivo, suggest that other EPL clubs – Manchester United and Chelsea – want to sign Sanabria. They face fierce competition in Barcelona, though.

To say where Juan Manuel Sanabria is going to end up is hard at this moment. What we can say, is that Uruguay got an exciting youngster on their hands who is showing great signs of potential. To keep his development going I would recommend him to stay in Uruguay for at least a couple of years. However, as we’ve seen so many times, that’ll be a tough ask.

Written by David Kraakman.