Manchester United have unearthed 'a real gem' - introducing Guillermo Varela

The Uruguayan right-back has hardly had a look in for his club but stood out while on duty with his country's Under-20s side and when on trial at Carrington in May
By Nacho Arias

A pibe is the common phrase used to describe a South American footballer of certain stock and appearance and, while that applies to Guillermo Varela, he is also very different to most. For he is a young man moving to one of the biggest clubs in the world despite not even having completed a game in Uruguay's Primera Division.

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It is, of course, common for European clubs to cast glances towards promising South Americans but it is strange to pick one with such a lack of experience; he played 23 minutes for Penarol in 2011 and that was in the last game of the season.

But he has stood out while serving Uruguay's youth ranks and was one of the more promising players as La Celeste got to the final of the continent's Under-20s tournament two years ago. Despite being beaten by Brazil, Varela had done enough to catch the eye of Manchester United's scouts.

And 2013 has been a memorable season for the 20-year-old. After shining with Uruguay in the qualifiers for this summer's Under-20s World Cup in Turkey, it was feared that Varela would miss several months of action, including the tournament, after sustaining what looked to be serious ligament damage. However, the injury was not as serious as first feared and he only sat out a month of action.

In May, the Montevideo-born right-back went through the biggest test of his young career: a trial at United. Training with the first team at Carrington under the watchful eye of Sir Alex Ferguson, Varela displayed the same form that caught the eye with his national team and convinced the Scot to sanction a transfer, even though he had already reached the decision to retire at the end of the season.

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Despite moving to Penarol, one of the biggest clubs in Uruguay, from the more modest Danubio, Varela has struggled to make the first team and has had to make his mark primarily as a youth international. But he has done just that, displaying the raw characteristics that could take him far: speed in attack and defence, physicality, good marking, anticipation, covering and a clear technical ability.

It was suggested that he would be bought by United and loaned back to Penarol to gain more experience but such was the impression that he made at Carrrington, Varela will challenge for a first-team spot at Old Trafford immediately by displaying all the quality that he has shown so far in his fledgling career.

Although the first signing of the David Moyes era has not been a blockbuster name, fans should be hopeful that the Red Devils have unearthed a real gem.