Achieving qualification at a club the size of Boca Juniors is quite a difficult task in itself, and only the best can make their way into the image of the first team at La Bombonera.
So for a player who only turned 19 in June and has 37 appearances in Boca named after him, it already suggests that he has the potential to become something special.
Those stats belong to Cristian Medina, who emerged as a bright light in Buenos Aires over the course of 2021, with many viewers hoping that he will become the future of Argentina’s midfield.
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He’s also gotten one step closer to doing that, after being one of the few teens who were called up by Albiceleste manager Lionel Scaloni for his team for the November World Cup qualifiers.
Along with players like his clubmate Exequiel Zeballos and the promising Juventus striker Matias Soule, Medina had the opportunity to train with players like Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martínez, as well as the player on whom he models his game, Leandro from Paris Saint-Germain. Walls.
“I saw it when I was in Boca,” Medina said. “I looked at the passing ability he had, he was very strong. I really like that about him.
“He also has good positional sense and he’s calm. I pay a lot of attention to that.”
Although Paredes may not seem like the most inspiring idol in soccer to everyone, Medina has certainly used the lessons he learned from watching the former Roma player to good effect so far.
Born in Buenos Aires, Medina enrolled in Boca’s academy at the age of 10 after impressing scouts at an audition held at his local club, El Rayo.
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Medina was one of around 2,000 children who took part in the trial, and viewers clearly saw that he was above the rest both in terms of ability and character.
“He had a lot of individual technique, great one-on-one skills, speed, and he dribbled everyone,” Diego Mazzilli, who was one of Boca’s scouts that day, tells Goal.
“He was very graceful in his game, and strong too, taking kicks from guys who were timing their tackles poorly when they tried to steal the ball from him.”
Medina originally started his life in Boca as a winger playing on the right side, but gradually he was moved more centrally, with that knowledge of the different positions on the court which helped him build excellent positional awareness, both for himself and. for your teammates.
“I feel comfortable playing as the number eight, five or 10. It’s indistinct for me,” the teenager said in a recent interview, as Medina had played most of his first-team games as a box-to-box center-back. midfielder
He was regularly compared to fellow Boca academy graduates and Argentine midfielders Fernando Gago and Ever Banega as he rose through the ranks, and Medina has already savored success on the international stage after being part of the Argentina squad that won the South American U-15 Championship of 2017 and the equivalent U17 two years later.
“He is very thoughtful, he gives the team that moment to pause in their movement,” explained former Argentina Under-20 coach Fernando Batista. “He is the player who is looking for those free and intelligent spaces on the field.”
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Medina’s professional debut came in February 2021 as a substitute in the 70th minute against Gimnasia, although he did not begin to receive favorable reviews until a solid performance in his fourth start against River Plate in the Superclásico in March.
Medina certainly seems to enjoy playing against Boca’s hated rivals from across the Argentine capital, as he also provided an assist to Carlos Tevez when the teams met in May, while in 2018 the youngster scored an impressive blast in a youth match between the two. clubs, a skill he has tried to replicate at times during his first few months at the senior level.
He backed up his strong opening first-team performances by scoring his first professional goal against Atlético de Tucumán in April, before putting on a Man of the Match display in his Copa Libertadores debut against The Strongest four days later, completing the 100th. percent of the parties. Its passes at more than 3,500 meters above sea level in Bolivia.
At the time, he made up a third of a trio of midfielders that had Boca fans purring, as Medina joined fellow homegrown players Alan Valera and Agustín Almendra in what was dubbed “the MVA.”
And while his minutes during the second half of the season have dropped somewhat, there is no doubt that Medina has made an excellent impression during his first season as a professional.
“Now he’s very smart in the way he plays,” says Mazzilli. “He knows when to tap or when he can start to carry the ball vertically to break the lines of the opponents.
“He takes good care of the ball and has a very good and varied range of passes.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, rumors of offers from European clubs have started to emerge, with PSV and Zenit, for whom Paredes played between 2017-19, having been discussed as being interested in the 19-year-old.
The Russian team reportedly even made an offer of just over € 6 million (£ 5 million / $ 7 million) for Medina, but Boca is holding on to more than double, with a asking price closer to € 13 million ( £ 11 million / $ 15 million).
However, it seems inevitable that Medina will become the latest in a long line of midfield talents to blow up Boca’s nest in the not-too-distant future.
He has already proven himself worthy of following in the footsteps of some of the club’s best academy graduates; now you are ready to take the next step.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.