Club: Argentinos Juniors
Preferred Foot: Right
Strengths: anticipation, spatial awareness, vision, athleticism, agility, ambidexterity, passing, composure, maturity
Areas for Development: shooting & experience
The 2023 U-20 World Cup would see various players from across the globe impressed on the international stage and earning moves to Europe, with Ecuadorian talent Kendry Paez making the move to Chelsea just a month after turning 16 (he will join in the summer of 2025). Alan Matturo was named the second-best player in the tournament, winning the Silver Ball and playing a key role in Uruguay’s first World Cup since 1950, when they won it on the senior stage, and moving to newly promoted Genoa, whilst Colombian winger Oscar Cortes joined Lens and Brazilian right back Arthur headed to Bayer Leverkusen.
The next player to make the move to Europe after putting in a strong display in Argentina could be Federico Redondo. The son of the legendary Fernando Redondo, considered as one of the finest defensive midfielders in football history with a 19-year career that would see him win a Champions League and a Scudetto with Milan, a Copa America and Confederations Cup with Argentina, and two league titles and two Champions League titles with Real Madrid, Federico decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a calling at the defensive midfield position.
He was born in Madrid but moved back to Argentina at a young age, joining Argentinos Juniors at the age of 10 and progressing through the academy ranks, making his debut on July 11, 2022 and racking up 13 appearances throughout the campaign. Redondo emerged as a starter in the Apertura season under ex Barcelona defender Gabriel Milito and became a viral sensation for his performances at the World Cup despite the Albiceleste’s Round of 16 defeat to Nigeria.
One of Federico’s main strengths is his spatial awareness. Time and time again, he has so much time on the ball and it’s no coincidence. It’s also nothing to do with the league he’s in, it’s about his spatial awareness. If you watch him carefully, he’s always scanning and making subtle movements to create space for himself and allow himself to identify the pockets of space for him to drift into with minimal energy wasted. In the clip below, he allows his marker to carry on running whilst he slows which creates just enough separation for him to have time on the ball. Subtle, but intentional.
Scanning to identify pockets of space for him to drift into with minimal energy used. In this clip you’ll see him allow local potential markers to carry on running whilst he slows down to creates just enough separation for him to have time on the ball. Subtle. But intentional. pic.twitter.com/71FFuJ4m1t
— Ben Mattinson (@Ben_Mattinson_) August 10, 2023
Federico’s game is all about finding, entering & creating space for himself whether it’s holding his position by staying still, sprinting into the space, changing the direction of his run, or the ball-rolls that are reminiscent of his father’s.
Mundial Sub 20 pic.twitter.com/k753FPlabN
— Barto (@Barto_110) July 31, 2023
The 20-year-old midfielder, whose contract expires in December 2024, has great awareness and times his movements to perfection, rolling the ball and turning past his opponent before creating space for himself and finding a passing option. His awareness enables him to read the game and make plenty of interceptions (2.65 per 90) as well as see the game at an advanced level for his tender age.
Physically, he has the ideal conditions for a defensive midfielder, 6’2″ with a leg-to-torso ratio that favors the latter (shorter legs, longer torso) and enables him to accelerate quickly with a tight turning radius. He is incredibly skilled at turning out of pressure despite his height, manipulating his center of mass to perfection and giving him the ability to maintain his balance and use his body efficiently to win duels.
His weight distribution prior to engaging in duels is on his toes which gives him a stronger base to win the ball, and his physique gives him the stride frequency and length of someone much shorter, blessing him with elite recovery pace. He has the perfect physical profile for a mobile, duel-winning, aerially dominant ball-playing complete no.6.
Federico is a real athlete. The way he drives up the pitch as a transitional threat mirrors his father. Although Fernando’s main role regarded defensive work, after recovering the ball, he would power up the field with conviction to progress play and create quality attacking chances. His ability to walk or lightly jog into spaces makes him a highly effective player but it also preserves his energy for short quicker bursts in the press or on the transition.
This is the difference between Sergio Busquets and Redondo; Busquets wasn’t blessed with athleticism like Redondo. His slower pace meant he had to have great awareness to make faster decisions and execute to perfection. With Redondo, he has this ability AND elite athleticism – like father, like son. When on the ball, Federico oozes class and composure, and his decision-making and execution belie his age, timing his through balls to perfection, an ambidextrous player who is capable of playing inch-perfect, killer passes into the box.
He’s especially skilled at disguising his passes and playing line-breaking reverse passes, not revealing his intentions until it’s too late to defend, and it’s even harder to anticipate his next move when he’s on the ball due to his outstanding in-game understanding and heightened positional awareness courtesy of his constant scanning. His composure on the ball allows him to be a calming presence for his team, showcasing his leadership and maturity by directing his teammates where to go or where to play a pass to.
— The Next Wave (@_TheNextWave_) August 2, 2023
One area that could use some work is his shooting. Although 0.92 shots per 90 isn’t the highest, it also isn’t a surprise due to his position, but if he can make a similar leap and add the same goal-scoring prowess that has seen the likes of Rodri and Casemiro flourish, it would add another dimension to his game. This will come with experience — Redondo has made just 45 appearances for Argentinos Juniors — and he looks set to remain for the Clausura season, but don’t be surprised if some of Europe’s elite come knocking in January if he continues his stellar performances in Buenos Aires.
By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson_
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Hector Vivas – FIFA