Meet Marlos Moreno, City's new gem who left Atletico Nacional a golden parting gift

The teenager has delivered the much-coveted South American title to his boyhood club, as a partnership with Pep and a career in Europe await with Man City


GOALPROFILE


There is no doubt whatsoever that Marlos Moreno has a bright future ahead of him. The 19-year-old forward has already broken into the Colombia national team, whom he represented in the Copa America in June, and has now completed a move to Manchester City. 

While he will spend the next year honing his trade out on loan, at Deportivo La Coruna, he has a brilliant chance to keep learning. Few coaches have a better track record with young stars than Pep Guardiola, and there is no better place for him to reach his potential than at the Etihad.

Extraordinarily, for such a young player, Marlos played a key role in the Atletico Nacional’s road to the Copa Libertadores final. Ever-present as the club won the competition, he topped the Libertadores rankings in assists with four. Moreno also chipped in with three goals of his own, and carved out a place in one of South America’s most exciting attacking units.

Fast, direct, and with two exceptional feet, the teenager has caused problems across the continent. He has also shown that he is not intimidated by the most aggressive of atmospheres, as he proved in the semi-finals against the mighty Sao Paulo. 

The Brazilian club were tipped by many as Libertadores favourites, with two-time winning coach Edgardo Bauza boasting the talents of Ganso and ex-Boca Juniors goalscorer Jonathan Calleri among others. Nacional, meanwhile, had to dig deep to reach the last-four, with tight victories over Argentine duo Huracan and Rosario Central booking their place.

In the heat of the Morumbi Stadium, however, the Colombians and Moreno showed their killer instinct. Miguel Borja opened the scoring for the visitors nine minutes from the end, silencing the Sao Paulo faithful. But there was even better to come.

With the 90 minutes almost up, and the Brazilians reeling, Moreno held the ball up in the area. An exquisite backheel fell right into the path of the oncoming Borja to net his second, and a routine 2-1 win in Medellin sealed a final spot against Ecuadorian underdogs Independiente del Valle. After a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Ateltico sealed the title with a 1-0 win in front of their own fans.

While Moreno’s immense talent and speed are what immediately stand out, his awareness and teamwork are staggering for a player of his age. In both semi-final legs and the final he took a secondary role, drawing defenders in and finding his team-mates to cause damage. He is not bothered by the spotlight, a trait he demonstrates both in his on-pitch displays and his modesty in front of the microphones. 

“In the first 15 to 20 minutes the key was to soak up their attacks,” he said of that now-famous Sao Paulo upset. His humility was also apparent when referring to that brilliant assist: “I had a bit of luck. I took the ball on the diagonal, I saw that Borja was coming through on his own behind me and I managed a nice little backheel.” 

Moreno, then, has taken the first steps in what promises to be a brilliant career. Neymar was the last young star to dominate in such a fashion a Libertadores campaign, back in 2011, and there is no reason why the promising young Colombian cannot go on to imagine similar success.

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