In this series, we take a look at some of the most interesting young talents in the world of football. Next up is Argentinos Juniors’ 20-year-old defensive midfielder, Fausto Vera.

El Semillero del Mundo (The seedbed of the world) reads on a wall at the training ground at Argentinos Juniors. Beneath that in bold, capitalized letters is the name of the academy’s most famous graduate – Diego Armando Maradona. Below that further, an exhaustive and star-studded list of alumni: Claudio Borghi, Sergio Batista, Fernando Redondo, Juan Róman Riquelme, Esteban Cambiasso and many more.

There is no better motivation for Argentinos Juniors’ current generation as they make their way down the steps towards the training pitches than to imagine their name added to this remarkable list. Fausto Vera is one of them.

The 20-year-old defensive midfielder has been an integral part of Fernando Batista’s Argentina under-20 side and was poised for a major role at the Tokyo Olympics. The rescheduled 2021 tournament remains Vera’s primary focus, yet his displays for La Albiceleste and for Argentinos Juniors make a European move likely to take place before that time.

After the revered number ten shirt in Argentinian football, the second most iconic is that of the five – a multi-purpose role combining defensive attributes with the ability to initiate play from deep. It is here that Vera thrives.

Positionally astute, Vera protects his back four not through brute force but rather by reading the game and looking to step in and snap up loose passes or pounce on any heavy touches. That’s not to say there isn’t a physicality to his game, but there is a certain elegance that elevates him above that of the old-fashioned hatchet man.

4.67 interceptions and 10.03 recoveries in the opposition half per 90 minutes in the Superliga provides evidence of a capable ball winner and a player comfortable pressing high up the pitch to win back possession quickly.

A cerebral protector in front of the defense, Vera often uses his positioning to cut out passes or at least attempt to direct play away from the most threatening areas.

Yet the demands of the modern game have molded a player equally as comfortable on the ball. Dropping deep at times between the center-backs to pick up possession, Vera can initiate the transition into midfield and break opposition lines with incisive passing.

Actively involved in possession, Vera’s main objective may be to keep the ball but that doesn’t prevent the midfielder from averaging 12.36 forward passes and 8.3 into the final third in the Superliga.

The accuracy of those progressive passes drops slightly from 85.1% to 76% but the vision and technique to find those gaps is there.

One pass that Vera executes regularly is the cross-field switch – 3.8 long passes per 90 for Argentinos Juniors and 4.7 for Argentina, where the wingers have benefitted from receiving the ball in space.

Exhibiting the player’s passing range and vision, the switch can quickly create the numerical advantage in threatening attacking positions.

Creating these positions to isolate the opposition full-back is a useful tool in the armory of any deep-lying midfielder.

Now openly admitting that Argentinos Juniors are open to proposals, it’s clear that Vera’s future lies away from La Paternal. CSKA Moscow and Torino are both reported to have made offers below the Bichos $10 million valuation, but a deal somewhere remains likely.

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