It’s not easy to predict the next soccer star. There are so many things that can go wrong. Some up-and-coming stars never end up playing on the big stage. For example, does anybody know what happened to Freddy Adu, the U.S.’s Pelé? Sometimes great players simply become good and decent fútbolistas, but never superstars like Carlos Vela. Still, take a risk, grab a pencil, and write this name down: Jesús Marimón, the Colombian Gnégnéri “Yaya” Touré.
There was a time when few Colombian players made it to Europe, and even fewer to top teams. The entire country was watching Faustino Asprilla demonstrate his long set of talents in Italy, because there was nothing but Italian soccer on cable TV and because he was the only one killing it in Europe.
In fact, the famous Pibe Valderrama never quite got his footing in the old country. Today, the story is different, with a national team composed almost entirely of Europeans and Colombian players as regulars, on teams like Chelsea, Real Madrid, Atlético, Inter, and Milan.
Still, it’s a rare occurrence that at barely 15 years of age a team like Manchester City is tracking a player. Jesús Marimón was born in 1998, in the northern part of Colombia. After brief but successful stints on the U-15 and U-17 teams, he got a one-month trial with Once Caldas, a bit far from home. If you don’t remember, Once Caldas was one of the most unexpected winners of Copa Libertadores in 2004.
The trial quickly became a professional contract, and soon Marimón was in the starting lineup at just 16 years old. He made his debut in August this year and has not left his spot. In fact, he’s the only kid his age holding a regular starting spot in South America while playing like he’s done it his whole life. His position on the field and his ability to distribute the ball are drawing comparisons to Yaya Touré. It might be a bit too soon for that, but not by much. We can assure you he’ll be packing his bags for Europe sooner rather than later.