Wonderkid Factory | Part 38 | Assist King Juan José Vizcaíno

Robinho Lazaró lifted his and Envigado’s 21st Liga BetPlay title as they won Apertura 2040, making Envigado the most successful club in Colombian history. However, more big transfers would seriously impact the club in the mid-season break.

Midfielder Yelkin Montero had been vying for a move away from the club for a couple of years, which massively upset the squad dynamics and resulted in multiple team leader meetings in the summer. But Lazaró held onto him in an attempt to win the latest Apertura title. Montero again threw his toys out the pram in July so this time Lazaró granted him his wish and negotiated a club and national record £16.5m sale, most of which was in installments, to Corinthians. They also lost his midfield partner Gianfranco Bahoque, who refused to sign a new contract and agreed a free transfer to Betis, so Lazaró cashed in for £500k – upon which, Bahoque was immediately worth £40m when he’d been worth just £2m at Envigado.

In their place, the two Juan Fernando’s Rivas and Morales become first-choice midfielders and Lazaró promoted new academy prospect 16-year-old Killiam Garza and holding midfielder José Zuluaga.

Those minimal transfer values were one of Lazaró’s biggest frustrations at Envigado, as it made it virtually impossible to keep any player that showed promise. For example, Lazaró went and handed out new contracts to his remaining key players. That included new best player winger Juan José Vizcaino, who signed a new £23.5k deal but was still only valued at £4.2m.

Copa Libertadores Knockouts

Finishing 2nd in their group really hampered Envigado as they took on Vasco da Gama in the second round, while group winners Santos faced Universidad de Chile. The home leg was up first and a pretty terrible first half was instantly forgotten by three goals in six minutes. Centre-back Eder Franco, who also wants to leave, opened the scoring, Vasco immediately equalised but striker Edisón Borrero nicked a 2-1 win. They were even better in Brazil as Borrero scored in the second minute and doubled his tally just after the break to seal another 2-1 win.

A favourable quarter-final followed against Venezuela side Deportivo Táchira, who shocked Palmeiras 2-1 in the previous round. They started well in the away leg as Mateo Acevedo scored inside 20 seconds then added a penalty 10 minutes later and missed a penalty after half an hour. Táchira got a goal back but captain Rodolfo Vega headed home for a 3-1 victory. And they booked a fifth successive semi-final as six different players bagged goals in a 6-2 home success.

The semis saw Envigado take on Fluminense with the first leg at home. A piece of brilliance by Vizcaíno saw him pick up the ball on the left, beat three players and slam the ball into the bottom corner before Vega headed home a free-kick to give his side a 2-0 lead to defend in Brazil. And that proved enough as Morales and Borrero scored either side of two Fluminense strikes for a 2-2 draw. So Envigado were headed to their third Copa Libertadores Final!

And, for the third time, they again took on Santos in the Final. However, this time Santos and, specifically, their incredible striker Nildinho had too much for Envigado. Acevedo gave them the lead early on but Nildinho hit a brilliant hat-trick to inspire victory for the Brazilians.

Finalización Season 19

Finalización began with a domination of Santa Fe by 28 shots to three, but only made one count thanks to young full-back Yesingeur Ariza. A draw at Bogotá followed before a rotated side won 2-1 at Junior with Zuluaga scoring his first senior goal. Zuluaga swiftly added his second as Acevedo’s brace and a Vizcaíno strike sealed a 4-1 victory at home to América.

Vizcaíno created both goals for Borrero in a 2-1 victory over Santander, which took the 21-year-old winger to 31 assists for the season, surpassing the club record set by Luis Ángel Díaz set in 2029. And he added two more in a 4-2 thumping of Millonarios. Lazaró was forced to rotate and they drew three in a row before new graduate Jaime Julio scored both in a 2-1 win over Tolima. Vizcaíno scored the opener and created the other for Borrero in a 2-1 win over Nacional that sent Envigado top, where they remained despite some slightly iffy results.

There was plenty to celebrate in a 2-0 win at home to Pereira, in which Lazaró reached 1300 matches in management and Diego Mena became the first player to make 500 league appearances for Envigado. That win also wrapped up top spot in Finalización with two games remaining. So Lazaró threw in rotated squads, including a 1-1 at Independiente on the final day in which midfielder Stalin Valoyes scored his first senior goal.

Targeting A “Sextuple Double”

Reaching the Finalización post-season meant Envigado had a chance to win a 12th successive Liga BetPlay title and a sixth straight league title double. The post-season group paired them with Junior FC, Deportivo Cali and Millonarios, which began two days after the Libertadores Final and the six games took place over just 11 days! However, Lazaró had learned to rest players between every game to ensure they were at least fit for most.

Lazaró had to rotate for the opener at Cali but still had enough to earn a 3-0 win through Vega, Acevedo and Borrero. Two days later, they fell behind early at Millonarios but Vizcaíno got them level then created the second for Acevedo, which saw him set a new record for Liga BetPlay assists, surpassing Díaz’s 30.

A heavily rotated side beat Cali 3-0 with goals from Borrero, winger Dennieer Menco and Garza’s first senior goal. Two days later, Junior came to town and Envigado dominated by 18 shots to seven before young striker Yan de Armas nicked a late winner off the bench. Two goals in a minute had them in control early on at home to Millonarios before winning 3-2 to confirm their place in yet another Final with a game spare, which a rotated side drew 1-1 at Junior.

That set up a Final against América de Cali, who Envigado defeated in the Apertura Final in 2039. Annoyingly, Borrero got injured just before the first leg in Cali but his replacement de Armas seized his opportunity by scoring the opener after 54 minutes. América got level with 10 minutes remaining but Acevedo earned a 2-1 lead in the final minute, with Rivas creating both goals.

Envigado completely dominated the second leg with América barely venturing out of their own half. However, the hosts wasted their chances and hit the bar three times, so Lazaró was concerned they were going to waste the opportunity. So he went more defensive and they earned a 0-0 to win yet another title.

Envigado won a 12th successive Liga BetPlay as they completed the sextuple double!!

At the end of the season, it was finally confirmed that Envigado was indeed the most successful team in Colombian history having lifted 22 titles.

Another Record-Breaking Season

Vizcaíno was probably the star player this season, setting a new league record 33 assists and a new club record 41 assists plus 15 goals in 57 appearances. That effort earned him the Liga BetPlay Young Player of the Year award.

However, Acevedo won Player of the Year for the third time in a row and the fifth time in total. The right-winger scored 29 and got 11 assists with a 7.66 average rating in 49 games. That record saw him become the first Envigado player to be voted second in the South American Player of the Year, after Francisco Ocampo previously came third in 2031.

Borrero was again top scorer with 46 goals plus eight assists in 56 games. de Armas also chipped in with 20 goals in 63 appearances, of which just 17 were starts, while Vega scored 11 from centre-back and Rivas got 18 assists but just two goals.

Wonderkid Factory Next Steps

Lazaró had realistically achieved everything possible in charge of the wonderkid factory production line at Envigado. His side was comfortably the best in Colombia, to the point that playing league games was becoming a bore, and they’d won two Copa Libertadores and two Copa Sudamericana.

One of the few things that might excite Lazaró to continue was if the club built a new stadium which, considering they had 7,000 season ticket holders and 51,000 on the waiting list, seemed a pretty fair request. However, his board repeatedly rejected Lazaró’s request. Another thing that might interest him in staying was the opportunity to spend the £76m transfer kitty he’d singlehandedly developed over the last 19 years and abandon his self-imposed homegrown-only approach.

So would Lazaró stay? And would he set about spending some of his hard-earned cash at Envigado? Join us on Friday to find out!


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