· Full name: Guillermo Varela Olivera
· Known as: Varela
· Born 24 March 1993 in Montevideo, Uruguay
· 1 cap with his hometown club Peñarol, 9 caps with the U17 squad, 10 U20 caps
· Why he’s coming to the Premiership: Varela apparently played some of the best football of his life in his two week trial for Sir Alex in May 2013
How This New Red Can Shake Things Up in England
Manchester United manager David Moyes has wasted no time this summer in building his defense of the Premiership. The Uruguayan 20 year old fullback, Guillermo Varela, has officially penned a five year deal to join the Reds on an undisclosed fee. This first signing for Moyes is quite the curious one.
Rumored to be more the work of the trusted Sir Alex Ferguson while on his way out of the managerial position, this deal nonetheless has raised a few eyebrows. The U20 international has played just one professional match in his whole career at the top flight of football; and if that’s not worrisome enough, even that microscopic amount of experience comes from the domestic league in Uruguay, not known for its level of talent, relatively speaking.
But I am not meaning to imply the decision makers at Old Trafford have lost their minds – quite the opposite. They’re merely intent on making a gamble with this long-term investment, and in their defense, one that could very well pay off. History would tell us that United has an eye for this sort of thing.
In Varela’s past U20 South American championship matches, he showed a great deal of promise for a future in European football. He played an instrumental part in the Uruguayan defensive line that allowed just three goals in its last five matches of the tournament; and the man himself showed confidence with the ball at his feet and initiative on the attack with pacey, fearless overlapping runs down the right flank. At times he seemed the only offensive spark his side could muster.
Varela also showcased his crossing ability whenever possible, demonstrating the fact that he is a traditional South American fullback, nimble on his feet and accustomed to hitting the opposing defense where it hurts from play out wide. But his speed and ability to make creative runs remain his distinguishing qualities.
This young rightback is an explosive force going forward, always eager to join the attack from what we’ve seen so far. And this pedigree of player seems all too perfect for the modern game in England. So this deal does make some sort of sense.
But let us not be so naïve as some fans and pundits who predict Varela to immediately give Rafael a run for his money in appearing in Moyes’ starting XI consistently. I myself have to be opposed to the notion that he’ll start over the Brazilian, simply because as technically gifted as this newcomer may be, he is indisputably unproven and surely nowhere near ready to face the physicality of the Premiership right away. If the young Uruguayan is smart, he’ll take notes on the training ground from grizzled defensive veterans like Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, and Patrice Evra. (It is also worthy of note that Varela’s now rival at rightback just had his coming-of-age season last year and securely fell into favor with the United faithful).
To add another possible grievance, Varela’s strength doesn’t outright impress. Although his style of play has let him avoid that footballing discrepancy in matches past, in England he will no longer have that luxury in the notoriously robust game. The already lean Uruguayan stands a modest 5 foot 7, and while that’s not necessarily a damning quality in a fullback per se, it is surely not an advantageous one, especially considering his new set of opposition. I think Moyes will take the safer of two options in this case and give the vastly improved Rafael the majority of first team minutes.
And now we come to the verdict on the youngster.
Varela looks a fragile player, but his potential cannot be denied. He looks perhaps a bust, but his raw athleticism and attacking capacity cannot be ignored. At least for the time being.
If given enough time to adjust to play in England, Varela is sure to excite spectators in the coming years with his ability. It’s just a matter of how long this lad will take to hit his stride, and I think that’s a fair measure of what makes a great player. Many will agree the odds are in his favor because of his age and this opportunity to be surrounded by some of the best players on the planet.
So despite the blatant lack of experience, this Uruguayan has already demonstrated he has the aptitude to belong in the world’s most competitive league. When matured under Moyes, he will surely be a joy to watch, a menacing red flash bolting down the right flank for years to come.