Updated: Jun 7, 2020
In the last couple of years, Uruguay have been viewed as a somewhat ageing National Team with little to catch the eye. Their icons including Luis Suarez, Edison Cavani and Diego Godin are all now in the twilight days of their illustrious careers. They've failed to sustain competitiveness across all competitions, rarely making an impression to challenge in both South America and around the globe. On the index, there has been very little value in the Uruguayan National Team... up to now.
Football Index Market follows hype, something Uruguay have always lacked. But there are two exceptional young players both in the spotlight of European Football, that could pair to provide Uruguay with a formidable midfield in years to come. Both players have a huge scope to rise on the index. Both players have proven their worth in top-flight football already.
Rodrigo Bentancur, 22 | Juventus | £1.42
Bentancur has played at Juventus since 2017, when he left Boca Juniors for a fee of around £12m. The central midfielder has played under both Allegri and Sarri, learning the art of passing alongside some of the best players in Europe. The midfielders he's trained with over the last three years are straight from the top-drawer; Pjanic, Matuidi, Khedira, Can, Ramsey, Rabiot. They have all played at the highest level and will no doubt have helped Bentancur on his path to success. Furthermore, Bentancur has at times been favoured over the majority of that list. This season he's played over half of Serie A and Champions League minutes. The fact that he's also played as a holding midfielder, a mezz'ala, or hovered towards the wings throughout his time at The Old Lady also indicates his versatility. In all, he's a fantastic midfielder that doesn't take much credit for Juventus' success of recent.
A good investment?
With bigger names in Juventus' squad, it's natural that the Football Index doesn't value him all that highly. One of the primary factors in his value being sat below £1.50 is the time at which he joined the Index. Back before IPO hype was a thing, young players barely gained traction until they were played. Bentancur was listed a few years back when he joined Juve, meaning his price when he was listed was a fraction of what a wonderkid is listed at these days. He's had to gradually increase in value based purely off performance rather than hype through his wonderkid era. Now he's nearly 23, he's not regarded as a kid, but still has years of growing to fulfil his potential. And Juventus seem to believe in him.
With the transfer speculation surrounding Pjanic, Ramsey and Rabiot, there seems to be no indication of Bentancur moving anywhere. This indicates Juventus are building their midfield around him for future seasons. Bentancur has proven he can play UCL football no problem. The bigger question is in what role is he best suited? If Pjanic leaves, Bentancur will likely take the holding role. This will increase his PB based on touches and passing, however he won't be let loose going forward so often. This is even more likely should Rabiot leave too, and Kulusevski joins the ranks as a more prominent attacking midfielder. If no transfers occur, Bentancur will still challenge and play as he has done this season - featuring in the midfield three that Sarri has preferred. Alternatively, if Pjanic stays and Jorginho joins Juve then there's a good chance Bentancur will be deployed more offensively.
Bentancur leads assists this season at Juventus, tallying 6 in 19 appearances.
There should be a fairly seamless adjustment to play forwards if this is required of him, The issue is how this fits Sarri's style of play. It's not often he utilises a true CAM, and Bentancur is not suited as a modern winger. So Bentancur could face difficulties keeping off competition in a midfield three if any more stars are on-boarded without current players going the other way. It's an unlikely scenario but a risk worth calculating into your investment.
At £1.42, Bentancur offers Serie A and Champions League minutes from an elite European side. At 22, he isn't theoretically in his prime, giving plenty of traders scope to watch him increase his contributions as their investment matures. Finally, with all the ins and outs reportedly going on at Juventus over the last three years, Bentancur has gradually become a rock in midfield. It's more than likely he'll be a starter next season. £1.42 is a bargain.
Federico Valverde, 21 | Real Madrid | £1.65
The second Uruguayan midfielder that excites us is Fede Valverde. He's already earned 20 caps, having debuted for his National Team aged 18. Much like Bentancur, Valverde has featured in just over half of the domestic and European league minutes this season. In his 22 appearances for Los Blancos this season, he's contributed 4 assists and 2 goals. The numbers aren't setting the world alight, but it's the manner in which he's performed this season that catches the eye. Transfermarkt list Valverde as one of the Top 10 most valuable players aged 21 and under.
Real Madrid are a superclub. Their midfield is stacked with talents, yet Valverde has played about the same minutes as Luka Modric, a recent Ballon D'Or winner. With Casemiro, Kroos and Isco all also capable in the centre of the park, Valverde has had to seriously impress manager Zinedine Zidane in order to play as many minutes as he has.
A good investment?
Valverde is obviously impressing the coaching staff at Real Madrid. He's pulling the strings and dictating the pace at a very young age in a star-studded squad. £1.65 for a youngster gaining momentum at a club like Madrid is certainly an attractive value. The main concern when comparing Valverde to Bentancur is the squad situation they find themselves in.
Both Juventus and Real Madrid have an older midfielder or two on their way out. Juve have more depth and competition, but are also operating a revolving door to midfielders compared to Madrid. The Old Lady recently let Emre Can go and they're actively trying to offload a couple of players surplus to requirements. Bentancur is not one of those players on the move. Compared to Real Madrid, Modric is the only outstanding question of departure. This could be a good sign for Valverde to earn good minutes, but it also opens the door to competitors on their way in. He's not the only young star in that midfield. Dani Ceballos is returning from loan. Reinier, the 18 year old Brazilian, has been signed as a CAM. James Rodriguez isn't staying at Bayern so could end up returning to the Bernebeu. Brahim Diaz is another youngster capable of playing behind the front line from a central position. Madrid aren't short of options in the young-chance-creator department. Casemiro is the only defensively minded midfielder, so perhaps Valverde will look to improve in a box-to-box role to establish himself as a starter. But then what does Valverde offer that Kroos doesn't?
As Modric steps back, Valverde looks most likely to step up.
It will be interesting to see in what role Valverde looks to cement his arrival as a Real Madrid starter next season. If he does start to shift his focus more offensively in a midfield three of Casemiro and Kroos, Valverde has the potential to be a huge hit on Football Index. His assist and goal tally would naturally increase, and the media attention of chance creators is far greater than those on the defensive end of the game.
Both Bentancur and Valverde offer a fantastic opportunity to back the players ability rather than hype. Both have earned minutes in their respective European Superclubs.
Both midfielders are firmly fixed on establishing themselves as starters each week. With no transfer speculation, little media attention and a huge scope to fulfil potential, the Uruguayans could start to rocket as they establish themselves amongst the world's best next season. The risk factor is small compared to many players at that age. There's no drastic cliff to fall from. Investing £1.50 in each of these looks as though there's only one way to go. Up.