Name: Valentin Barco
Club: Boca Juniors
Height: 172 cm
Dominant Foot: Left
Played three full matches for the Argentine U20 Side
Over two seasons played 45 games for Boca Juniors II with close to 4000 minutes game time
Played 4 games of the Boca Juniors senior team with a total of 296 minutes
Valetin Barco is so much fun to watch. I don’t think there was a more talented offensive full back/wing back since I saw a very young Trent Alexander Arnold. The level of technical ability, the flashes of finding ways to break a press or counterpress, his decision making under pressure, at his age are all mindboggling at times.
His crossing ability is what sets him apart, miles apart from wing backs his age. The amount of curve, height and speed on just an average cross you see every game is incredible. This is where the Alexander Arnold comparisons stems from. Trent is a better athlete, but technically I don’t think there is much difference between where Barco is now and where Trent was as a 17-year-old. There isn’t a cross that he isn’t capable to deliver. Seen him create good opportunities from free kicks, corners, crossing from deep or the byline, crossing from stand still, or crossing at full speed. And yet, in all those scenarios, the speed, precision and curve of the ball are consistently great.
One thing that is still a double edged sword is his overt reliance on his technical ability, combined with his confidence which can border on overt arrogance. If a defender is close to him, he will take him on. It doesn’t matter if he is close to his own goal or to the opposition’s, he will try and dribble past at least one person. This gets him in trouble at times, especially if he gets crowded close to his own box. In a few games he did give the ball away, against River almost create a 1v1 for the opposition due to his insistent arrogant attempt to dribble past two opponents.
That is why Boca still isn’t really using him during build up. As a team they also prefer to play it long and direct to a front 3, with Barco hugging the left touchline. But when he does get the ball, he will try and progress it forward. I think as his decision making improves with age and experience, he will be an equally devastating progression threat both with dribbling and passing. His first touch comes and goes, which is a bit weird for such a technically gifted player. Maybe its more tied to lack of focus and concentration. His right foot is weak in general. He doesn’t do a lot of things with it. Apart from some simple back or side passes he doesn’t still use it for anything progressive.
Very positionally aware. This is the case in both defensive transition and when his team is pinned deep by the opposition. Communicates well with the center back pairing. Never saw his screw up an offside trap. Does a good job closing down opponents. Was a lot wilder earlier in the season, but is getting calmer and more precise with experience. Teams did try and exploit his size when he was guarding the far post, but his keen sense of positional awareness doesn’t let him down. But there are physical limitations of course. Older and bigger players often overwhelm him. This leads to frustrations throughout the game. He has got a bit of a temper, and will need to cool down a bit, become as composed during defensive duels as he is when taking on players with his mazy dribbles.
For a kid of his height and weight, as well as age, he is quite the throw in taker. He manages to hit the very core of the box with almost every one of his throws. The throws themselves have decent speed on them, but they still aren’t fully what you could call bullet throws.