Talking Points | Yerson Mosquera joins the pack

After Yerson Mosquera became Wolves’ first summer signing of 2021, has looked at some of the talking points surrounding the 20-year-old’s jaunt into English football.

A breakout star

Mosquera has blossomed in the past 12 months having only come onto the scene for Atletico Nacional at the backend of the Colombian outfit’s 2020 season. His name first appeared on the bench for ‘Los Verdolagas’ in their 2-1 victory over Bucaramanga in September, just weeks after their campaign had restarted after the pandemic caused the season to go on pause. Later that month, Mosquera made his senior debut in the Copa Sudamericana – South America’s equivalent of the Europa League – starting in defence against River Plate (not that one, rather the Uruguayan team based in Montevideo).

However, it was not a dream debut for Mosquera, despite putting in an impressive display, as the then-19-year-old was sent off in first-half added time. But it wasn’t long until he was back in the team, playing the final three matches of the Categoria Primera A season where Nacional finished third before falling out at the quarter-final stage of the league play-offs. However, Mosquera did score his first – and so far only – professional goal to give his team an early lead in a 3-2 win over Alianza Petrolera in the penultimate match of the regular season.

Becoming a regular

Having crashed onto the scene at the end of the previous season, Mosquera was a regular in the defence following the turn of the year, playing a large proportion of Nacional’s fixtures as they finished the league season at the top of the table, although the season was to once again finish at the quarter-final stage.

He also helped his side into the group stages of the South American Champions League – the Copa Libertadores, playing every minute of the qualifying wins against Club Guarani, Libertad Asuncion, as well as the first group game versus CD Universidad Catolica, as Nacional got off to a winning start in the competition.

A physical presence

As a domineering centre-half, Mosquera has already been compared to several of the Colombian defenders who have burst onto the Premier League scene in recent years – Yerry Mina and Davinson Sanchez to just name two – and has plenty of weapons in his armoury that could make him a hit in the Premier League.

Described as being ‘tall, athletic, fast and robust’, the 20-year-old is also being earmarked as the next big hope for Colombia’s defence, according to Baba Gol. The website’s scouts say the new Wolves signing is ‘as good as they come physically’, who excels in his defensive duties and defensive duels, both in the air and on the ground ‘winning most with ease’.

Read more: Old Gold | Wolves’ South American signings

Posing a threat in both boxes

Wolves’ technical director Scott Sellars called Mosquera ‘very athletic, very aggressive, very competitive and has a great attitude to defending’, saying he loves doing the dirty work at the back. With his size and as someone who enjoys a header, Mosquera can also post a threat at either end of the pitch – something Sellars admitted Wolves were lacking last season, with the team conceding 13 goals conceded from free-kicks and corners.

However, Mosquera is also technically gifted, with Sellars saying the defender is comfortable with the ball at his feet, with the ability to bring the ball out from the back, as well as pass through the lines. Babgol said: “He is comfortable enough in possession, creates angles, opens up his body to receive the ball, composes and handles pressure well enough without taking too many risks.”

Competition for his signature

To get their hands on a talented prospect like Mosquera, Wolves were always going to find themselves competing with other clubs for his signature. Sellars told that the club had to fend off interest from ‘several clubs across Europe’ as well as ‘some of the biggest names in the Premier League’.

The Telegraph’s John Percy and Joe Edwards of the Express and Star have claimed teams who were interested in the defender included Belgian league winners and Champions League regulars Club Brugge, Manchester United and reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.

Giving youth a chance

Sellars said Wolves’ recruitment team met with Mosquera, and spoke to him about the pathway which exists at at the club for young players, which ultimately convinced the defender to make the switch to Molineux. Last season, Wolves gave the most Premier League minutes to players under the age of 21 – 19.1 per cent – with the likes of Fabio Silva, Ki-Jana Hoever, Rayan Ait-Nouri, Vitinha and Owen Otasowie, all playing a part in the campaign.

Wolves also had 21-year-old Pedro Neto pick up the club’s Player of the Season award, and with new head coach Bruno Lage having built his career on developing and growing young players into some of the world’s best, it feels like there could not be a better team for Mosquera to join if he is to fulfil his potential.

Testing the new GBE rules

By signing Mosquera, Wolves became one of the first Premier League clubs to utilise new Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) rules which allows access to young talent outside the European Union, something which would not have been possible before Brexit, as the defender would not have qualified for a work permit.

But under the new rules, Mosquera has accumulated the required points to earn GBE thanks to his performances in the Copa Libertadores, being a Colombian youth international, the quality of the Colombian league and due to Nacional being one of the leading clubs in the country.

Read more: Expert View | Mosquera’s past and future explored

A market of untapped potential

During the first #AskWolves Q&A, Sellars mentioned the impact Brexit will have on the club being able to sign players from inside Europe, but he also said the new regulations has opened up the South American as well as the Asian and North American market. And Wolves did not take any time in using the new system to look into the untapped potential South America can offer British clubs.

These new markets will be of great interest to British clubs, because, as it has been in the past, they will no longer have to wait for the talented players to move to other teams within Europe before they can sign them, once their value has greatly increased. When signing Mosquera, Sellars said the rules now allows Premier League teams to sign and develop talented South American players earlier in their careers, ‘this way increasing their market value ourselves’, and ultimately saving clubs money.