Yarek Gasiorowski: Valencia’s Teenage Gem in Defense

Club: Valencia

Nationality: Spain

Position: CB, LB

Preferred Foot: Left

Height: 6’3”/190cm

Age: 19

Strengths: aerial duels, box defending, anticipation, line-breaking passes, ball-carrying, athleticism

Areas for Development: aggression/positioning


From David Silva to Isco, from Ferran Torres to José Gayà, Valencia have produced a litany of world-class footballers over the past few decades that have contributed to their success as well as the success of the Spanish national team. After narrowly avoiding relegation last season, Valencia are cruising to a top-half finish with Los Che currently occupying eighth place, two points behind Real Betis, and one major factor has been the increased presence of academy graduates.


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Valencia’s financial issues have forced them to cash in on a number of key players in recent years such as Yunus Musah, Gonçalo Guedes, Carlos Soler and Ferran Torres, and as a result, more and more academy products are getting their chance to shine in a young and exciting squad. Homegrown players like Hugo Guillamón, Javi Guerra and Jesús Vázquez have all become regulars in the first-team, which is captained by academy graduate José Gayà, and the next graduate to get his chance could very well be Yarek Gasiorowski.


Born in Spain to a Polish father and a Spanish mother, he joined Valencia’s academy in 2012 and has gradually emerged as one of the finest defensive prospects in youth football in Spain. Having previously racked up 15 appearances for the U-17s, Gasiorowski was called up for the U-19 Spanish national team in September 2022. That same month, he was named as one of the 60 best young talents in world football by English outlet The Guardian.


He hasn’t looked back since then, scoring 6 goals in 18 appearances for Spain’s U-19 side and starting in their run to the semifinals in last summer’s U-19 Euros. The teenage talent made his first-team debut for Valencia on October 7, coming on for the final minutes of their draw at Mallorca. So far this season, he has racked up 11 first-team appearances for Valencia, picking up two starts each in the Copa del Rey and La Liga.


Capable of filling in at left back or center back, Gasiorowski is strong in aerial duels. He’s a dominant presence in both boxes as he wins aerial duels in his area and in the opponent’s box and a threat aerially on corners and set-pieces. Whether it’s headers or neat finishes, he’s always in the right place at the right time.


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Gasiorowski is a formidable box defender who puts his body on the line to protect his area, taking responsibility of the area to win challenges, anticipate any danger and avoid conceding a goal. He reads the game well enough to judge when a through ball is coming in behind and intercept it, positioning himself to perfection and showcasing his brilliant footballing IQ.


He often anticipates the pass going into an attacker then aggressively presses them by pushing up and winning the ball when they don’t expect it. He reveals his intentions late, but one problem with this is it can be risky if you don’t win the ball & your CB partner doesn’t drop deep. However, he compensates for this by constantly communicating with his partner, demonstrating impressive leadership and bravery both on and off the ball.


Gasiorowski can break the opponent’s pressing lines with his passing and provide a dynamic presence in the first two phases of build-up. This skill is invaluable for technical teams to have as they look to build a strong technical foundation at the heart of their defence and launch attacks via their precise passing out from the back.

A technically secure CB who executes top-notch long passes and diagonals, his verticality in possession enables him to successfully beat the opponent’s mid-block. Whilst his passing is one of his biggest strengths, he is also an impressive ball carrier who loves to drive forward to progress the play. He has a good turning radius and is an explosive dribbler as he drives past defenders with power and purpose whether it’s from LB or CB.


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Gasiorowski is a versatile defender as his on-the-ball ability enables him to play at LB in a ball-progression based role to a high level too, but he’s good defending wide areas and 1v1s as well. At CB he could play at CCB or LCB, but he’s perhaps best suited LCB in a back 3 tasked with ball-progression.


Athleticism is one of Gasiorowski’s strengths too. He’s displayed great pace and agility for his height to allow him to recover well and turn past defenders when carrying the ball. Also, his explosive nature gives him good jumping ability which is partly why he’s so good in the air (and being 6’3”).


At just 19 years of age, it’s obvious that his game needs refining as he looks to become a regular in the first team under Ruben Baraja. CB is a role which players get better at over time, and experience helps more in the defensive positions as it requires more game understanding, anticipation and discipline (especially positionally and to stay on your feet more often).


Maturity, building physical strength, consistency at senior level, timed aggressions — all of these things will come with experience, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts testing out these skills and making a name for himself at the top level. With Mouctar Diakhaby out for a significant portion of time due to injury and Gabriel Paulista making the move to Atletico Madrid in January, Gasiorowski finds himself behind Cristhian Mosquera and Cenk Özkacar in the pecking order in central defense, but time is on his side as he looks to break into the first team and become a regular at Mestalla.


By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson_

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Quality Sport Images / Getty Images