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Maximiliano Gómez

Maxi Gomez, the NxGn starlet hoping to emulate Suarez and Cavani

12:35 BST 06/07/2018
Maxi Gomez Uruguay 2018 World Cup
Gomez rejected a move to the Chinese Super League in January but could leave Celta Vigo this summer amid interest from a host of European clubs

Over the past decade Uruguay have largely been perceived as a steely, physical team, short on technical quality but with destructive midfielders and brutish centre-backs.

Warriors such as Diego Lugano and Egidio Arevalo Rios, pivotal to their country's ascent to the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup, have been replaced by players who seem to have found the right balance between the physical and technical side of the game. Emerging stars Lucas Torreira, Rodrigo Bentancur and young striking prodigy Maxi Gomez represent something of a sea change for la Celeste.

The Arsenal-bound Torreira and Juventus' Bentancur have both been afforded important roles during Uruguay's 2018 World Cup campaign, but Gomez has had to make do with watching on as Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani work tirelessly to great effect in Russia.

The former Defensor Sporting wonderkid has predictably been unable to displace his esteemed compatriots as of yet - an injury sustained by Cavani against Portugal may open the door for him during the business end of the tournament - but he can expect a lead role in the coming years, if he manages to build upon his stellar debut campaign with Celta Vigo

Los Celticos underachieved last season, resulting in manager Juan Carlos Unzue's departure, but the attacking brand of football implemented by the former Barcelona assistant during his brief spell at the Balaídos brought the best out of key offensive stars such as Pione Sisto, Iago Aspas and Gomez, who scored 17 goals and provided four assists in 36 Liga matches.

His promising start in Spain led to interest from Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan in January. Their €20m (£18m/$23m) bid twisted Celta's arm and the lucrative wages tempted Gomez into making the switch, but the 21-year-old eventually resisted the chance to bloat his bank balance for the sake of his career - a wise move if his recent form is anything to go by.

Nicknamed 'The Bull' due to his ability to shrug opponents off when in possession, Gomez was swiftly dubbed 'The New Suarez' when making his breakthrough in Uruguay, but his style of play doesn't exactly mirror that of his idol.

They both approach matches in the same spirited way, but whereas Suarez is a force of nature, charging around the turf and harassing defenders, Gomez is more interested in matters inside the penalty box, where he can utilise his supreme heading ability and natural goalscoring prowess – he scored 10 headed goals last season, more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

Despite flourishing in Europe and attracting interest from the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla, Gomez hasn't been given an opportunity to demonstrate his talents for Uruguay as they strive to win their third World Cup.

But regardless of his game-time or lack thereof in Russia, ‘El Toro’ is already making a name for himself in Europe and it’s surely only a matter of time before he follows in the footsteps of his illustrious team-mates Suarez and Cavani by becoming one of football’s elite forwards.