Yaser Asprilla: Colombian prodigy looking to conquer the Premier League at Watford

Going from South American football to one of Europe’s ‘Big Five’ leagues is a huge challenge, even for the most talented young players.

Skill isn’t always enough to reach the elite level – a potential star also requires confidence, and more.

Thankfully, that doesn’t appear to be a shortcoming in Watford’s latest signing, 18-year-old Colombia international Yaser Asprilla, who is already looking to beat Faustino’s name (even though they are unrelated), perhaps the country’s most successful export to the English league.

“The way I’m going, I humbly think I’ll be better than him,” Yaser announced to the world shortly after signing terms with the Envigado Hornets, in a bold statement that quickly went viral.

“I believe in my characteristics and talent. I know it will be an amazing experience, in the most beautiful football career”.

Watford certainly think he has a gem in his hands. The Premier League champions agreed a deal for Asprilla in August, when he played less than 10 top-flight games in the Dimayor League for Envigado.

The teenager stood out as one of the revelations of the 2021 season, scoring five goals in 19 games as his side secured a respectable ninth place, missing out on the play-offs.

A small club located on the outskirts of Medellin, Envigado is rarely, if ever, involved in the fight for honor in Colombia. Instead, their specialty is caring for the latest generation of talent, something they do better than most people.

Asprilla is just the latest graduate from a youth academy that in recent years has produced stars such as James Rodríguez, Juan Fernando Quintero, Giovanni Moreno, Mateus Uribe and Fredy Guarin, among others who have made a name for themselves on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Born in Bajo Baudó, on Colombia’s Pacific coast, scrawny striker Asprilla was just 11 years old when he moved to Envigado, and immediately stood out with his lethal left foot and precocious technical ability with the ball at his feet.

The youngster is most comfortable directing play from a pole position in midfield, while he has also excelled down Envigado’s flanks on both flanks.

However, given his skill around goal and impressive physical stature, he could have fit better on the pitch, playing only as a centre-forward and creating chaos in and around the box.

Those closest to Asprilla undoubtedly have a unique asset on their hands.

“Yaser is a special player; We haven’t seen a player of Faustino Asprilla’s style in a long time, since now they are more athletic and less skilled”, explained Alberto Suárez to Blu Radio, who coached Asprilla in the club’s youth category after his absolute international debut on 16 March January against Honduras.

“He’s a typical old-school player who knows how to play with his body. Against Honduras he delighted us and made us proud because he showed what he always does at Envigado. Yaser will have football in him for a long time.

“What makes it special? Play while thinking. He not only plays with his feet, but also with his body.

“When I talk to [el entrenador de Colombia] Reinaldo Rueda asked me about his physical condition and weight, he is thin but you try to kick him because he knows how to use his body, so to stop him you have to push him. or catch it, but kicking it is very difficult for the opponent.”

It remains unclear where Asprilla, who hopes to see more international playing time in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Argentina, will use his undoubted potential in the future.

Even if he does receive an England work permit, Watford may decide to loan him out for the remainder of the season, to Envigado, Colombian rivals Deportivo Cali or the Italian Hornets or Udinese as potential destinations.

But with European transfer deadlines coming and going, he is still part of the Watford squad, so it will be interesting to see exactly where he lands once his international commitments expire.

However, he has earned a valuable stamp of approval, with former Newcastle United, Parma and Colombia star Faustino Asprilla backing him to follow in his footsteps and make a big impression in England.

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“Looks great”, ‘Tino’ commented to the Deportivo Blog when asked about the young man’s comments. “I should not only think about myself, but many players who are even better than me. Hopefully he can overtake us all because it’s good for football and for the Colombian national team.

“If he plays well, he must be my relative. If he plays badly, he doesn’t!”

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Matt Thompson

"Problem solver. Proud twitter specialist. Travel aficionado. Introvert. Coffee trailblazer. Professional zombie ninja. Extreme gamer."

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