The exciting playmaker was not discouraged by a brief spell as a teenager with Udinese and, despite transfer links with Brazil & Mexico, he is determined to go to Europe
By Ralph Hannah in Asuncion
Cerro Porteno star Luis Caceres is desperate for another chance at European football as the talented former Udinese trainee continues to win fans in his native country and further afield.
After over five years with Cerro, the versatile attacking midfielder, known as Lucho, spoke exclusively to Goal.com about his desire to seek out fresh horizons. The Paraguayan, now 24, describes himself as “a bit like Kaka … without the nutmegs” and someone who can play on either the left or right-hand side, having originally broken into the Cerro Porteno side as an enganche, the classic playmaking role still used in many South American sides.
Caceres shot to stardom back in 2006 and admits “everything was very quick, I was playing first-team football when I was 18 years old”. But to those in Paraguay, he had caught the eye before that playing for the national team. He put on the albirroja for the first time in the Under-15s and progressed through the ranks until he reached the U20s “where I played in the Sudamericano [World Cup Qualifiers]”, he recalls. Former Paraguay coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino also handed him a senior cap.
“It was only a friendly but still …” he beamed.
In the first half of 2009 Cerro Porteno won the Apertura tournament, with Caceres playing a key role. The following championship did not bring the best out of the Ciclon, but the midfielder shone once more and was named the best player of the Clausura. This year, he has struggled to hold down a first-team place under new coach Mario Grana and would like a return to Europe, having played for half a year in Italy as a teenager.
“I played for Udinese for six months but in the Primavera team, so I returned to Cerro”, he explains, before adding, “I think [Europe] is where a footballer makes a difference … it’s very important to go to Europe.”
Growing up, Caceres revealed that he admired former World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane.
“I took him as an example, apart from the headbutt,” he explained, breaking into a smile. Luis' contract at Cerro is drawing to an end, and it is across the Atlantic Ocean where he wants to make headlines.
Caceres sees it as a challenge, but states firmly, “I’d go with the mentality that I’m going to progress my career and I’ll be happy to join any side.”
He would have no problem adapting to change, as he recognises a player has to get used to a new coach; just last year in Cerro, he played under four different trainers.
For now, the future appears uncertain. Lucho was asked about his Wikipedia page which claims he has signed for Mexican club, Aguilas Azules, but he strongly denied the rumours. He has also been linked with Brazilian side Coritiba, but says he has had no contact as yet.
Wherever the young star goes though, he will bring plenty of experience and maturity beyond his years. Moreover, he will give his new side plenty of options in attack with both his creativity and versatility.