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Colombia waits for its next mega star: Oscar Perea, a Name well-known to Europe's biggest clubs

12. March 2024
Oscar Perea (foto: uradna spletna stran kluba)
Oscar Perea, a promising young Colombian football star, shines at Atletico Nacional, attracting attention from Europe's top clubs, potentially becoming Colombia's next big football sensation.

Colombia has had many wonderful footballers in the past. At the end of the eighties and the beginning of the nineties of the last century, it had a generation of top players, among whom Carlos Valderrama, Rene Higuita, Faustino Asprilla, Freddy Rincon, Adolfo Valencia, and the unfortunate Andres Escobar stood out. In this millennium, they were followed by Ivan Cordoba, Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, and some others.

Recently, it seems that Colombian football does not "produce" extraordinary players anymore. One of the few exceptions at the highest level is currently Luis Diaz, who plays for Liverpool. Will this change with the rise of the new wunderkind of Colombian football? Oscar Perea is an eighteen-year-old left winger, who already regularly plays for Atletico Nacional from Medellin and arouses the interest of big European clubs.

Oscar Andres Perea Abonce was born on September 27, 2005, in the small town of La Virginia, which was established in the 19th century as a settlement for escaped slaves. When he was just five months old, his father died, and he moved with his mother to an even smaller place, Santa Cecilia, where he took his first football steps in the football school Escuela Benkos Biojo.

He and his mother then moved to Palmira, where he continued his football education at the local club Envigado. There he was noticed by coach Jorge Montoya from the club La Cantera in the provincial capital Pereira. Here his remarkable progress began. For the U15 team, he scored 13 goals in 18 matches, which in 2020, at the tender age of fifteen, opened the doors for him to one of the biggest Colombian clubs, the former Libertadores Cup champion, Atletico Nacional from Medellin.

In May 2022, at the age of sixteen, he made his debut in the first team of the green-and-whites when coach Hernan Herrera sent him into the game against the team Equidad in the 75th minute. His talent was also noticed by the British newspaper Guardian, which included him in their selection of the 60 best young footballers in the world Next Generation 2022. Although he has only recently become of age, he has already won three trophies with Los Verdolagas in 2023: the Dimayor league, the Colombian Cup, and the Colombian Super Cup.

Perea is quite tall (180 cm) and physically very strong for his age, which is very useful in battles with older players. His best position is the left wing, from where he likes to penetrate the penalty area to create an opportunity for a shot with his stronger right foot. He is an extremely dynamic player who likes to dribble and never shies away from a challenge. He shines the most in the transition from defense to attack, where his speed, agility, and exceptional acceleration are highlighted.

Dribbling is one of the most noticeable aspects of his game. In the first league season of 2023, he averaged 6.42 dribbles per 90 minutes, being successful in just over half of the cases (51.1%). The statistic of his passes shows that he likes to keep the ball at his feet, as he averaged only 15.89 passes per 90 minutes, placing him at the bottom compared to his teammates at Atletico Nacional. Often he holds onto the ball too much, which is undoubtedly a result of inexperience and something that can be corrected. Cristiano Ronaldo had a similar issue at the beginning of his career.

In a defensive sense, he is an ideal player for a team that executes high pressing on the opponent's half. His positioning and spatial orientation help him intercept opponent's passes in the danger zone, and his physical strength also aids him in defensive duels. In the 2023 season, he averaged 3.65 ball recoveries per 90 minutes.

Currently, everything is going smoothly for the young Colombian winger, so the future seems bright. His contract with the Medellin club expires in December 2024, so the big question is whether he will continue to play in the green-and-white jersey. It's no surprise that several European clubs are monitoring his progress, with Borussia Dortmund, known for its quality work with young players, being the most interested.

If Oscar Perea continues to develop at such a pace and if his representatives choose his next destination wisely, Colombia may finally get a worthy successor to Carlos Valderrama, James Rodriguez, and other giants from the past.

United by football.

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