Daniel Edwards takes a look at the heir to Humberto Suazo's number 9 shirt Alvaro Ramos...
Club: Deportes Iquique
Position: Centre Forward
Although in many ways Marcelo Bielsa's Chile side had an excellent World Cup campaign in 2010, there was no doubting that ultimately the Roja lacked a certain cutting edge upfront. Excellent support players such as Mark Gonzalez, Matias Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez worked tirelessly to create chances, but with pivotal striker Humberto 'Chupete' Suazo nowhere near full form and fitness a return of three goals in four matches was disappointing for one of the most attack-minded teams in the competition.
At 29 years old there are question marks over how long Chile can continue to rely on Suazo to spearhead their attack, especially with the next World Cup occurring when the powerful frontman will already be well into his thirties. The good news however is that in young prodigy Alvaro Ramos, fans and selectors alike believe they have found someone who can lead the line for many years to come, and starting with this month's Under 20s Championship campaign.
A diminutive (at 5'6") yet powerfully built forward, Ramos made his debut for local club Iquique at just 16 years old at the start of 2009, in a season that would ultimately end in disappointment and relegation to the second tier of Chilean football. Given only a handful of games in the Primera, the teenager then became a key piece of the team which swept the Primera B title in 2010.
Ramos scored eight times in a championship-winning season for his team, including the vital strike, which confirmed their promotion in front of 10,000 ecstatic home fans. Crucial goals also appeared in the Copa Chile, as Iquique finished a perfect season with a win over Deportes Concepcion in the final to earn a place in next year's Copa Sudamericana. The team will be desperate to hold on to their most exciting prospect for a tilt at the Primera next season, but they will face strong competition from the larger clubs in Chile and even Europe who will be looking to snap up the youngster before he becomes a household name.
Strong, quick, adept at finishing from both short and long range and with that rarest of abilities to strike fear into the hearts of rival defenders, Ramos will be key to Chilean efforts as they attempt to upset the favourites and lift the 2010 Under 20 Championships. Youth football in the Andean nation enjoys an ever-growing reputation, and with talents such as the 18-year-old in the team Roja fans will be confident of going one step further than in South Africa and making a real impact in Peru.
Others To Watch
Cesar Pinares: The attacking midfielder starred as a youngster for Chilean giants Colo Colo, and moved to Italy with Chievo on the last day of 2010's January transfer window to cement his place as a real prospect in world football.
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