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Inside FutbolInside Futbol

06 October 2018

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Austria

Peruvian Hope Yordy Reyna Aiming to Make Red Bull Salzburg Perfect Springboard




Andreas Ambarchian


19-year-old Peru forward Yordy Reyna had attracted considerable interest from leading European clubs over the last year, with Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund and Europa League semi-finalists Fenerbahce among those to have been keen on the pacey winger. However, as the summer transfer window swings open, it is Austrian Bundesliga side Red Bull Salzburg that have secured the services of the young forward. But have Salzburg bagged a future legend? Inside Futbol take a look at the great hope of Peruvian football.


Early Career

With more than seven million inhabitants, the Peruvian capital Lima is home to around a quarter of all the people in the country. The sprawling coastal region is also the base for the Peru's only international airport and is the filming location for many of the nation's favourite soap operas, a range of unwaveringly bad but hugely popular broadcasts. The city's omnipotence extends to football too, with the most popular and most successful teams playing out of the capital. Between them, the big three of Alianza Lima, Universitario and Sporting Cristal share a total of 64 Peruvian league titles, around a third of all the domestic championships contested since the inaugural season in 1912. Any native player with ambitions of a career extending beyond the national league has to, at one point or another, take to the pitch donned in the famous shirt of one of these three dominant clubs.

Reyna was 14 years of age when he made his inevitable footballing relocation to the capital, moving from Chiclayo, the northern city in which he was born in 1993. The athletic youngster didn't take long to make an impression in Lima, piquing the interest of 23 times league winners Alianza Lima during a trial for the club and subsequently signing for the former team of current Peru internationals Paolo Guerrero and Jefferson Farfan.

Although slight of frame, Reyna became a prominent figure in the youth ranks at Alianza, helping the team reach the semi-finals of the Under-20 Copa Libertadores in 2011, scoring against Flamengo of Brazil in the process. In the same season, the hot prospect made his first team debut for Alianza, as a last minute substitute in a home game against Inti Gas Deportes of Ayacucho in August.

 

Breakthrough

Just one more substitute appearance followed for Reyna in 2011, however, when called upon next year, the spritely forward was quick to deliver on his considerable promise. With pace beyond the capacity of almost anyone in the Peruvian Primera Division, quick feet and an extensive repertoire of skills, Reyna scored his first senior goal against Sport Boys in May 2012, and by the time the second Clasico of the season came around a month later, the lithe winger was already a key member of the Alianza squad. In the match itself too, Reyna proved to be a pivotal figure.

Although staged at the national stadium of Peru, rather than Universitario’s Estadio Monumental, Alianza were the away side both on paper and on the pitch. With nominal hosts Universitario pressing forward, Los Blanquiazules relied on the blistering pace of Reyna to threaten the stretched La U defence on the break. The game-plan was working well until the 20th minute when Reyna was forced off with a hamstring strain. As a consequence, the pattern of the match turned and, with Alianza failing to look anything like as menacing following Reyna's withdrawal, La U went on to record a fairly straightforward 2-1 victory over their fierce rivals.

Reyna returned from injury to score five more goals that season, a tally that helped the right-footed forward to collect the Young Player of the Year award in 2012. In the current campaign, the attacker was again a major part of the Alianza first team, bagging six goals, including the winner in a 1-0 victory over Universitario in March.

On the international stage, Reyna has also started to establish himself as a major talent. The forward's eye for goal led Peru to the final group stage of the 2013 South American Under-20 Championship, his tally of five successful strikes was bettered only by Uruguay and Roma attacker Nicolas Lopez. Much of the damage Reyna inflicted on opposition defences during the youth championship was delivered dribbling in from the left, however, when making his senior debut for the national team, entering the pitch as a 79th minute substitute in the vital World Cup qualifying win over Chile in March, the attacker was deployed by coach Sergio Markarian through the middle, a position in which Reyna looked comfortable. The Chiclayo-born forward followed his first senior call-up with his first senior goal in the next match, making his mark on the international scene with a strike in the friendly against Trinidad and Tobago.


Europe

With interest from major teams in Europe, Red Bull Salzburg may seem an odd destination for a talented South American prospect. However, Alianza are a club with serious financial difficulties, desperate to generate quick funds through the sale of their prize asset. Although no official figure has been given, Red Bull-owned Salzburg paid more than $3.3m to secure Reyna; a considerable amount for the 19-year-old and well over the fee shelled out by PSV Eindhoven to sign the highly touted Farfan when the current Schalke star left Alianza for the Netherlands in 2004.

From the player’s perspective, the move also has its merits. Although not heavyweights of European football, Salzburg still regularly reach the qualifying rounds of the Champions League, courtesy of domestic form that has seen the team win the Austrian Bundesliga seven times since 1994. Here, in Wals-Siezenheim, Reyna has a chance to refine his sometimes over-elaborate game, with the possibility of a big move awaiting across the border in Germany should the raw talent impress in Austria.

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