Wonderkid Factory | Part 11 | Elite Talents Overload

The summer of 2027 saw significant change at Envigado FC as club icon James Rodríguez retired from football on a high aged 35. He was joined in leaving by stalwart midfielder William Hurtado, which saw manager Robinho Lazaró turn to his exciting young academy prospects.

However, one of those also left as the likes of Liverpool showed an interest in exciting midfielder Jafe Ostos, who only had a year remaining on his contract. And he joined Universidad Católica for £2.4m rising to a club record £3.4m. A few other small deals saw the Envigado bank balance pass £15m for the first time.

However, they didn’t have to wait long for new starlets to replace Ostos. As has become customary, Lazaró’s sixth season in charge of Envigado began with another stellar youth intake. And this one could be the best yet, with no fewer than 12 players considered “elite talents.” The pick of this intake is supposedly Colombian/English goalkeeper Charlie Goulding, along with left-back Andres Mira, Spanish centre-back Christian, striker John Pérez and winger Jaiber Prince, who the coaches consider the best prospect. Other names to look out for are midfielders Miller Barato and Heyler Gnecco, centre-back Auli Maradiago and right-backs Julio Fajardo and Luis Sánchez.

The 4-3-3 formation remains, with 17-year-old Ronaldo Bermudez and 18-year-old Randi Redín stepping up to replace James and Ostos. While Lucas Florez and Jhoao Trivini are competing to be first-choice striker. But 17 of the 25-man squad are teenagers and only captain Juan Manuel Zapata is over 23.

Third Súperliga Final

Early in the 2027 campaign, Envigado competed in their third successive Súperliga Final looking for a second win. They were up against it after the first leg, which they lost 2-1 at Atlético Nacional. But an early goal by winger Luis Ángel Díaz gave them hope, only for Nacional to nick an equaliser and hold on for a narrow victory.

A Slow Start To Season 6

Envigado’s expectations have massively lifted, with the bookies predicting them to finish 7th with odds of 25/1 to win Liga BetPlay Dimayor. Millonarios are huge favourites at 7/5 followed by Nacional, Independiente and Junior FC (all 8/1).

The season started in dull fashion with two goalless draws at home to Santa Fe and at Huila. They got things going with a 3-1 win over Tolima with Florez scoring in the first minute then strikes by Díaz and midfielder Josep Mejía. But a fairly shaky start, including a Trivino hat-trick earning a 3-3 at Cortuluá, saw Envigado firmly in mid-table. After 10 games, they’d scored 13 and conceded 12, which saw fans start to complain about Lazaró’s perceived “negative tactic.”

A surprise result saw Envigado go to Nacional and win 2-1 with two goals in three minutes from wingers Diego Betancourth and the in-form Díaz. But they couldn’t build on that as an exhausted squad went five games without a victory, yet somehow stayed in the top eight with four games remaining.

Envigado again had their wingers to thank as Betancourth bagged a first-half brace and Díaz added a third in a 3-0 win at Jaguares de Córdoba. The goals flowed again as Trivino bagged a hat-trick to defeat rivals Águilas Doradas 3-1 then a disappointing 4-3 defeat at Petrolera, in which Betancourth scored another brace.

The final day was the tightest Lazaró had ever seen for post-season qualification, with 5th to 11th place split by three points!

Envigado had a tough game to finish at home to 3rd-place América with an exhausted team. And a 2-0 defeat meant Envigado finished outside the top eight for the first time during Lazaró’s reign. And in hindsight, that was probably a positive as it gave him a chance to rest up his young team.

Copa Libertadores Group

Envigado found themselves back in Pot 1, and they got a pretty annoying group that saw them have to face Medellín rivals Nacional again, as well as Argentine side Argentinos Juniors and a qualifier that turned out to be Uruguayan side Penarol. And safe to say, it could have been worse – looking at you, Groups A and H.

The group began at home to Penarol and an early Betancourth brace teed up a thrilling 4-2 victory, despite Penarol having more shots. They lost 2-1 at Nacional, which was apparently attended by new Colombia boss Tite checking out three Envigado players for his next squad, but a quickfire Heidy Juliao brace and a Díaz goal and assist hat-trick led a brilliant 4-2 win over Argentinos.

At the halfway mark, Envigado were top with three teams tied on six points. A Florez goal earned a late point at Argentinos before a remarkable game at home to Nacional. The visitors scored their first shot… and their second… and their third, to lead 3-0 inside nine minutes. Trivino quickly got one back, only for Nacional to add a fourth. But Trivino got another back just before the break. And that proved crucial as a strong half-time teamtalk saw centre-back Juan Luis Ortiz and winger Felipe Toro pull them level at 4-4 with 10 minutes to go. And that man Trivino stepped up in injury time to claim a ludicrous 5-4 victory. The game saw a rare sellout at Polideportivo Sur, bringing in record gate receipts of £160k.

That huge victory meant they were virtually through bar a massive defeat in Uruguay. But they made sure of top spot as another Trivino hat-trick – which was his third in four matches – inspired a 3-2 win over Penarol.

Trivino has definitely stepped up this season, scoring 18 goals in 25 games with an outrageous 7.68 average rating. Florez has 10 in 22, while Díaz has impressed again with 14 assists and six goals in 27 games.

The question now was, could they get a slightly more favourable draw and move past the second round for the first time? Join us on Monday to find out!

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