South American Under-20 Profile: Player Of The Second Day: Nicolás Lodeiro (Uruguay)

The attacking midfielder is making a name for himself both at club and international level after he stood out in the game against Bolivia in the Under-20 Sudamericanos with two goals that saw many sit up and take note. Goal.com profiles the Nacional starlet that is set for big things in the game...
Personal information:

Marcelo Nicolás Lodeiro
Date of birth: 21/03/1989, 19 years old
Place of birth: Paysandú, Uruguay
Height: 1.70 Mts.
Weight: 69 Kg.
Foot: Left
Position: Attacking midfielder
Team: Club Nacional de Football

Starting out:

Nicolas Lodeiro began his career in his home town of Paysandú - an area in the north-west close to the border with Argentina - playing in the youth team of the Barrio Obrero club. His natural talent allowed him to move up a level and he played for Canelones in the Salinas tournament in 2001 where he was first spotted by Nacional.

Their scout, Daniel López, who has also discovered a number of other players that have become successful with Nacional before moving to Europe, such as Gonzalo Castro, Juan Albín and Bruno Fornaroli, made an approach to sign Lodeiro.

After spending a week on trial in Montevideo, Nacional signed him for their Under-14 team. His parents agreed, with the only requirement being that the club paid for him to go to a private school. He moved to the capital and stayed in a flat owned by Nacional, close to the club's headquarters.

Since joining the club, Ledoiro has always impressed because he was a unique player; the youth team coaches at the club knew that they had a rough diamond on their hands. Some have compared him to Lionel Messi because of his ability, but also because of his physique.

Lodeiro's left foot and intelligence are two of the main things that make him stand out. "He plays with his head up, he is not slow, not that fast, but has a great shot and can pass," the Head of Sport at Nacional, Daniel Enriquez, said.

Working his way up through every level at Nacional, the attacking midfielder became an Under-17 and Under-20 champion and in 2007, at 18 years-old, he was moved up to the first team squad.

Making his debut on August 19, 2007 against Fénix in the first game of the Apertura, Lodeiro had to wait until December 1 before he netted his first goal, against Progreso, although he was still being given only a few minutes each time.

In 2008 he was named in the squad for the Copa Libertadores and soon had his first contact against international teams. That did bother him as he scored a superb goal against River Plate in the Liguilla Pre-Libertadores.

National team:

Lodeiro has not been kept in the lower categories of the national teams to gain experience, but worked his way up to the Under-20 team with his performances for the Nacional first team and reserve side, becoming a regular in Diego Aguirre's outfit.

He was a member of the squad that played in the youth tournament in L'Alcudia in Spain, where Uruguay finished third, and earned a place in the final squad for the South American Under-20 event in Venezuela.

In the Juventud de América his debut could not have been better. Lodeiro organised the team in midfield and scored twice against Bolivia, including a 25-yard free-kick with his weaker right foot.

His future:  

Nacional know that if Ledoiro stands out in the Sudamerican Under-20 tournament then it will be very difficult for them to keep him at the club for very long, although they have no intention of selling him until he becomes a regular first-team player.

Ledoiro is represented by agent Daniel Fonseca, with whom he signed up with when he was 14. The former player has guided the youngster through the early years of his career and even helped him economically when he has needed it.

The starlet himself is only thinking about playing more and more with Nacional, the club he supported as a boy, but he knows that he may one day move to a bigger club. "I do not want to leave yet because throughout life you have to take advantage of opportunities, but in football you have to savour them even more," he said.

In fact, after the tournament in L'Alcudia the name of Ledoiro and the phone of Fonseca were both on the agenda of several of Europe's more glamorous outfits and after the Sudamericans that list will grow even more.

Martín Decaux, Goal.com