A few days ago, PSG made an important transfer: 60 million euros were paid for Manuel Ugarte, a decent amount for a footballer little known to the general public. The Parisians won the competition against Chelsea, who wanted to see the player on their squad. How did Ugarte get the attention of the best clubs?
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The midfielder made his debut very early in the Uruguayan league and became captain at the age of 18
Born in the Uruguayan capital, Ugarte was a member of the local City Park team as a child. Shortly after, Manuel joined the Fénix club, whose history goes back more than a hundred years. True, during this time the team won only a few titles in the second division. When Ugarte was playing in Phoenix, this club was in the middle of the Examples. The footballer went through the quarry very quickly and played his first game with the first team when he was 15 years and 233 days old. Ugarte became the youngest rookie in the Uruguayan league in the 21st century.
It is true that Manuel did not play in the defensive midfielder position. Initially, the coaches viewed the player as a central striker and only later brought him closer to their goal. A significant event in Ugarte’s career happened when he was 18 years old: coach Juan Ramón Carrasco gave the player the captain’s armband. The footballer made rapid progress and caught the attention of European clubs.
Ugarte went to Europe at the age of 19 and was brilliant at Sporting
The Portuguese ‘Famalican’ was the one who worked the fastest and paid 4.1 million euros for the talent. It took only a month for Ugarta to earn a position at the base of the new team. The Uruguayan became an important piece of Famalican, which almost took off in the European Cup zone. In the summer of 2021, Ugarte increased – Sporting paid 12.5 million euros for his transfer – and Famalican tripled the cost of the player in just six months.
Initially, Ugarte was taken as a replacement for João Pagliña. A year later, this player went to Fulham, and the Uruguayan established himself in the Lisbon club. Manuel played a key role in Rubén Amorim’s system. He came into midfield in a 3-4-3 or 3-4-1-2 formation, positioned slightly behind the creative midfielder. Especially memorable was the footballer’s performance in the round of 16 of the Europa League with Arsenal. Then, Manuel chained the actions of the attacking midfielders of the London Club and played an important role in Sporting’s memorable victory. And this despite the elimination in the second leg.
Manuel Ugarte played effectively in “Sporting”
Photo: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images
Pros and cons of a newcomer to PSG
Since he reached the Portuguese Championship (January 2021), Ugarte has scored only two goals: he scored one with the Famalican and Sporting shirts. The unconvincing attacking game in no way weakened PSG’s desire to get hold of the young footballer. 60 million euros is a decent amount, but the player knows what he is doing. “I don’t think a weak attacking game is a big problem. Ugarte’s main function is to maintain the defense, and in that part he is very good, ”says journalist Ángel Astejante from the Uruguayan edition of El País.
The Data Scout platform, based on a performance evaluation of a soccer player, noticed the polarity in his game. Ugarte is completely harmless to the opponent in the last third of the field, but is extremely effective in defensive martial arts. Also, the Uruguayan does not fly into tackles at every opportunity, unlike Marco Verratti. This feature of the Italian publication Le Parisien called annoying. Manuel is also good at interceptions: by this indicator, he is one of the best midfielders in Europe.
Ugarte in the Uruguayan national team
Photo: Kenta Harada/Getty Images
Ugarte was included in the squad for the 2022 World Cup, but did not play a single game
At Sporting, Ugarte had a relatively simple task: take the ball from him and quickly hand it over to his teammates. If necessary, Manuel can give transmissions over long distances, although he doesn’t do it very often. A very important aspect, given the breakneck speed of Kylian Mbappé. Of course, as long as the Frenchman still remains in Paris. Another plus for Ugarte is a good martial arts horse riding game. He is aggressive enough to engage in such duels.
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Of the minuses, a large number of yellow cards should be noted. It is clear that playing in the defensive midfielder position entails such costs, but last season Ugarte picked up as many as 16 warnings! At times, the South American lacks patience, and his aggressiveness brings problems. The Uruguayan is not only a perfect destroyer. He also handles the ball well. It is true that he spends most of his time in his own half of the field to get rid of the pressure of the opponent.
Ugarte played eight games with Uruguay. Six of them were controls. He went to the World Cup in Qatar, where he spent the entire group stage as a reserve. And Uruguay did not reach the playoffs. In July 2023, Ugarte was not included in the friendly match candidacy, but there is nothing surprising here. The new coach of the national team, Marcelo Bielsa, has invited only those players with whom he knows little to see them in action.
Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Thomas Parti is a footballer who is compared to Ugarte
Ugarte is regularly compared to Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey. They play well at tackle, use free space and pass effectively. Also, they play very well in the air. True, Party cannot be called the same “ball buster” as Ugarte. In addition, the African is better tactically and also likes to give passes to wingers. Perhaps it is more correct to compare Ugarte with Liverpool midfielder Fabinho. Although the Brazilian looks much more confident in the last third of the field. This is something the Uruguayan has to work on.