Valentin Barco: Boca Juniors wonderkid who could be Manchester City-bound
The 17-year old left-back is the fourth-youngest player of the Argentine giants’ history and has shown great promise since he was promoted to the first team.
Players who are emerging from youth ranks receive glowing reports from journalists and scouts. They tend to be the ones who play higher up the pitch.
Argentina’s No 10 player is often the focal point, due to its weight. However, strikers who are pounding in the goals get their fair share of the spotlight.
It is rare to hear about left-backs with world-class potential at 16 and 17 years old. Those who are more visible tend to be special.
Valentin Barco certainly appears to agree with this statement. The Boca Juniors teen has emerged as one of the most brightest talents that the Argentine titans have ever seen.
It isn’t surprising that the native of Buenos Aires has grown up.
Barco, or El Colo, started his football education at three years old at Club Atletico Sportivo. Six years later, he was sent to trial under the tutelage of Ramon Maddoni, a legendary Argentine scout.
Maddoni was able to find Carlos Tevez and Juan Roman Riquelme as well as Fernando Redondo, Esteban Cambiasso and Fernando Redondo. He could also see the potential talent Barco had almost immediately. He was signed by Boca on his advice.
Barco was nine years old when he couldn’t live on Boca’s campus at ‘La Candela. He had to travel more than 400 km each week from Veinticinco de Mayo to attend training sessions.
Patricia, his mother, told Convergencias that her son would wake up at 5 a.m. to study and then go to La Candela to return home at 10 o.m. at night. There were times when we didn’t have enough money to pay for gas or the toll. He would train even if he was sick.
Barco’s determination to succeed meant that even though he had to leave his home one year later, he was still capable of thriving away from his family.
He was primarily a winger, with the number 11, on his back. He helped his age group to win a league title in 2018. However, his coaches were not impressed.
Jorge Martinez and Leonardo Testone saw potential in Barco’s running and moved him gradually back to midfield, then full-back.
His impact on the game was not diminished by the change of his position. He signed a contract with Adidas when he was 14 years old. He soon became a key player in Argentina’s youth teams, playing a leading role in the Albiceleste’s win at the Vlatko Markovic tournament, Croatia.
This was in the summer 2019 but, with the Covid-19 pandemic destroying all South American youth football just months later it made 2020 seem like a lost year.
However, Boca’s attitude toward their academy has changed with Riquelme’s election as their second vice-president. They are now more eager to encourage their local youth into the senior squad than under previous regimes.
Barco signed his 16th professional contract. He was then invited to join Miguel Angel Russo’s squad for preseason, ahead of the campaign’s resumption.
Although he was initially sent to the reserve team after competitive matches were over, Russo called him up soon, and Barco was selected to play against Club Atletico Union on July 17th, a week before his 17th Birthday.
Fourth-youngest Boca debutant, Leandro Paredes was younger. However, Barco didn’t let his inexperience show. He made a lot of mistakes in attack and showed a willingness to run forward on the inside and outside of his opponent.
Here’s Barco (the red-headed left-back) in Boca training a couple of weeks ago…pic.twitter.com/NGR4JlM1MR
— Tom Maston (@TomMaston) July 16, 2021
Barco’s history as a forward should not surprise us. His main strengths lie in the third. Barco is a master of possession and has a keen eye for goal when he’s in shooting positions.
He isn’t lacking in defensive abilities, as he demonstrated with the heroic clearance he made in front his goal against Banfield in his second senior appearance. His all-action displays definitely caught the attention.
Frank Fabra, a Boca left-back, said that the teenager was a “great player.” He is just 17 years old but has a great personality. He is a great player.
Fabra isn’t the only one who admires Barco. Reports suggest that Abu Dhabi’s City Football Group would like to add him to their stable to continue their hoarding South America’s top young talent.
Barco’s contract at Boca is good until 2023 and they don’t want him to leave. They want to be able to enjoy the rarest beast – a teenager left-back who plays as if he’s been around for years.