In this series, we take a look at some of the most interesting young talents in the world of football. Next up is Liverpool de Uruguay’s 19-year-old midfielder Fabricio Diaz

Uruguay qualified for the World Cup with 4 wins from their last 4 games under new boss Diego Alonso, setting up a last hurrah in Qatar for Suarez, Cavani and Godin.

But with players like Valverde, Bentancur, Nunez and Araujo coming to the fore and talents like Ugarte, Pellistri and Torres breaking into the team, the future looks bright for the Charrúas.

A new face in their squad for the final qualifiers against Peru and Chile was yet another exciting young prospect in the form of 19-year-old midfielder Fabricio Diaz.

Although Diaz didn’t make the matchday line-up for either game, the teen starlet has been a regular for club side Liverpool de Montevideo over the past couple of years, with over 80 appearances to his name already.

Diaz burst onto the scene with an auspicious debut, starting and scoring in the Supercopa final in a 4-2 victory over giants Nacional a day before his 17th birthday.

Inevitably this immediately marked the deep-lying midfielder out as one to watch, whilst providing an early example of his maturity and mentality. Uruguay U20 captain and one of Liverpool’s on-pitch leaders, Diaz is a natural leader and his adaptation to senior men’s football has been seamless.

Diaz picks the ball up from the center-backs and strides forwards. He shows his ability to break the lines by playing a one-two and getting beyond the opposition midfield (above). He continues his run towards the box and then slips in a through ball for the forward to dink it past the onrushing goalkeeper (below)

Diaz’s dynamism and energy allow him to cover plenty of ground, whether it be shielding the defense, making himself receive passes, or advancing the ball forward. Indeed, when the shackles are off he also has everything to fulfill a more box-to-box role.

Diaz uses the ball well, averaging a pass accuracy of 85%, and has a good range of passing too. While he tends to go for sensible shorter options, he has averaged 13.1 forward passes and 6.46 progressive passes per 90 this season, which are good numbers for a player anchoring the midfield.

Probably the word that defines Diaz’s game best is security. Along with the strength of his personality, his physical attributes and technical skills, Diaz performs well in the defensive metrics too.

Here we see Diaz back helping out the defensive line, ensuring his teammate is not exposed and snaps in to make the tackle and tidy up the situation.

This season he has averaged 6.8 defensive duels, 10.15 recoveries and 5.7 counter-pressing recoveries per 90 and is also someone who fits in well with a side that looks to win the ball high up the field.

As you would expect from an exuberant all-action midfielder, Diaz picks up a fair few cards and will need to work on his discipline going forward.

While Diaz excels in duels and pressing opponents, he is also a very press-resistant player and does well transitioning from defense to attack. What’s more, in his short career Diaz has also shown great consistency and durability, rarely missing a match.

A ball is headed forward towards Diaz, who is pressed by two Nacional players. Using his awareness, intelligence and body shape, he drops a shoulder to send the two players the wrong way, turning a defensive situation into an offensive one.

Another factor in what makes Diaz such an influential figure and a promising player is his tactical understanding. Liverpool technical secretary Gustavo Ferrin has called him a “strategist” and that he is always looking to evolve and absorb more information on how to learn and improve.

Perhaps the next stage in his development will be to add more end product in the final third. While it’s not really what his game is about, he did score a lot in the youth divisions and has a good shot from range, but if he could add more goals and assists it would make him become a true all-rounder.

A place in the Uruguay squad for the World Cup is probably a long shot at this point but a national team senior debut can’t be too far away. For the time being, he will be a key figure in Gustavo Ferreyra’s U20 side as they build towards the Sudamericano in 2023.

Not 20 until next year, Diaz has plenty of time on his side but has already packed a lot into what looks to be a very promising career.

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