Speaking exclusively to FromTheSpot, Nathan Joyes named six upcoming talents currently plying their trade in South America. With potential moves to Europe in January in the pipeline for some of them, the founder and CEO of The Copa Club assessed the strength suitability of these prospects.
In the first instalment of this series, Joyes waxed lyrical about Marcos Leonardo – a Brazilian forward who has since been linked with a move to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. This time, it was Valentín Marco’s under the spotlight.
‘The next one is Valentín Barco of Boca Juniors,’ explained Joyes, ‘and it’s probably quite good timing because they lost in the Copa Argentina, which means they will not be in the 2024 Libertadores, which is almost unheard of.’
To understand just why Barco is so special, it’s important to take a glance at Boca Juniors’ situation – with Joyes insisting that the club are ‘struggling’ financially, and having to let go of star players as a result.
‘Boca are a mess, an absolute mess. They keep producing young talent and they keep [leaving] younger and younger because they’re not buying into any sort of project at the moment. Alan Varela had to leave when they were at the round-of-sixteen stage, where he played his last game, got them through to the quarterfinals and then left to go to Porto.’Embed from Getty Images
‘The manager has left. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at the club, they’re financially struggling again. Argentinian football is, probably, not even the second best in South America now, Ecuadorian football has probably taken over, so a lot of their best players are going over to the MLS instead.’
‘But let’s talk about Valentín Barco, because he’s been at the club since he was a boy – I think he was about thirteen, been a left-back ever since. Then, all of a sudden in the last year, when he’s been getting more and more senior appearances, it’s a similar story to Gareth Bale in a way, [they’ve] moved him forward into a more advanced position to where he can play left–wing or centre attacking [midfielder], and he’s excelled!’
Those similarities have caught the eye of numerous Premier League clubs, with plenty of big teams vying to secure the Argentinian’s signature in the upcoming January transfer window.
‘The confidence this boy has shown is why Man City are linked [with him], Brighton were apparently really close in the summer. I don’t want him to go to Man City. Chelsea are linked as well, apparently they’re in the market for a left-sided player.’
‘He was always going to leave in January but [missing out on the 2024 Libertadores] was the final nail in the coffin of Boca keeping anyone decent. He’s progressed to the left-wing, centre midfield. I don’t see a future for him at left–back and Brighton are, sort of, looking at him as a back-up left-back option – that’s the talk, as Brighton fans are going ‘he can come in, we need some cover for Estupiñán’.’Embed from Getty Images
‘[Estupiñán] is phenomenal, but Barco has issues, defensively, and he’s shown as he’s progressed how confident he is and his passing accuracy and some of the crosses… blimey! Go and watch some of his stuff, it’s scary what he was doing. He was pulling that Boca team to the final, they should have gotten nowhere near the Libertadores final, they didn’t deserve it at all.’
‘He’s standing on top of the ball, which I’m not sure that I like, but he pulled that off and this is at the Allianz Parque, at Palmeiras, who don’t lose at home and he was just playing with unbelievable confidence. So, his left foot is like a wand, to be honest, I can’t say too much more in terms of that.’
‘It will be interesting to see where he goes. Hopefully, those who are looking at him in the Premier League. I think a Premier League move is definitely on the cards for him. and it’s gonna happen and it’ll be cheap, probably in the region of £10m, £15m max. I’d be surprised if it’s any more because of the state of Argentinian football.’
The third instalment of Joyes’ The Copa Club Magazine is available for purchase now via this link, in both physical and digital form. This issue contains articles from a staggering 17 contributors across 86 pages.