Meet Alfredo Morelos, the latest Colombian gem
Background image: Pudina, CC BY 3.0
Colombia arguably must have the deepest squad within the CONMEBOL region. Headlined by world-class players such as James Rodriguez, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado and Radamel Falcao, the biggest strengths for Los Cafeteros is their depth in the attacking third. Carlos Bacca, Luis Muriel, Miguel Borja, Jose Izquierdo, Duvan Zapata, Luis Diaz and Yimmi Chara are all viable options up front, but there is one more name that could soon begin to make a name for himself within the Colombia setup. We are talking about the young up-and-comer, Alfredo Morelos.
Scottish fans – and particularly, Rangers supporters – will surely know who he is. The 22-year-old striker has taken the Scottish Premier League by storm this season and his impressive recent form granted him his first call-up to the national team. But who is this Morelos guy everyone has been talking about lately? In order to answer that, we need to go back a few years to understand where he’s coming from.
Morelos started his career back home in 2014, but only played in 12 Colombian Primera Division matches with Deportivo Independiente Medellin – known as DIM, one of the biggest clubs in the country. He scored just once before departing, first on loan and then on a permanent basis.
His destination was a rather unknown one, however, he decided to join HJK Helsinki in the Finnish Veikkausliga. Helsinki is the premier club in Finland, but it’s not as if the Finnish top-flight was a very competitive environment. By all accounts, Morelos’ move was a huge bet where the striker needed to prove everyone he was ready to play in Europe. And that’s exactly what he did.
In his first year with Helsinki, Morelos scored 16 goals in 30 league appearances, while finishing with 26 goals in 37 matches across all competitions. His second year also delivered flashy numbers. The speedy forward netted 20 goals in 24 appearances between league, cup, and the UEFA Europa League; his continental performances quickly caught the eye of several European sides and when it became clear he was just too good for the Veikkausliga. He took the next step and moved to Rangers in the Scottish Premier League.
The Colombian didn’t need time to settle on Scottish soil, netting 14 goals in 35 league appearances during his debut season, while finishing with 18 goals in 43 outings across all competitions. That was quite decent considering he jumped to a much more competitive environment. But we are seeing Morelos’ best form of his career right now.
This term, the Colombian has 17 goals in 28 games in all competitions, which led to his first cap with his native Colombia, and we can only guess there will be many more in his future. His mix of pace, dribbling and finishing skills is somewhat rare to find in the SPL. Seven goals in his last seven appearances is a brilliant return, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
It’s hard to see what’s on the immediate horizon for Morelos, but a move to the English Premier League shouldn’t be ruled out. For what is worth, Rangers manager – and former Liverpool legend – Steven Gerrard has labelled Morelos as “Rangers’ Luis Suarez”. He might never reach the heights of the Uruguayan. But that’s lofty praise and a sign that, as it happened in the Finnish Veikkausliga, Morelos might soon become “too good” for the Scottish Premier League.
And at 22 years of age, you get that feeling that this is just the beginning of Moreles' footballing story.