The classy, physical centerback and a set-piece specialist makes Ronald Koeman’s Everton the perfect fit for Las Palmas star, Mauricio Lemos
After rejecting a place on the bench in the Camp Nou, Mauricio Lemos has justified the Blaugranas’ interest last summer by showing his qualities as a tremendous ball-playing centre-back for Las Palmas this season. Now Lemos is hot property, will the La Liga minnows be able to hold on to the stopper or will the big guns lure the Uruguayan away?
Europe first laid eyes on Lemos when Rubin Kazan signed the youngster in 2015 on loan, before making his stay permanent shortly after. Lemos had come over from Defensor Sporting where he came through the youth ranks and debuted in professional football at just 18-years-of-age. It wasn’t long before Lemos entered the picture for the Uruguay set-up and represented the U20 side.
Based on his performances in this team, Rubin Kazan decided to secure his services on a permanent basis. In Russia, however, his David Luiz-esque style raised a few eyebrows. It was totally different to what the man on the street was used to and when Lemos’ adventurous, yet risky, style of play started to cost his club points, Rubin Kazan were keen on offloading the defender.
Las Palmas – who were back in Spanish’s first tier after a 13-year absence – were willing to take the gamble on Lemos and signed him on loan in January 2016. Nine games down the line and Las Palmas were already convinced enough to exercise the buy-out clause in his contract. Lemos’ natural game was a perfect fit with the Spanish game and made him a standout player in Las Palmas’ second half of the 2015/16 campaign.
His stellar six months in La Liga didn’t go unnoticed as both Barcelona and Real Madrid were preparing a move for Lemos in the summer. Barcelona even made an official offer, but didn’t land the 21-year-old. Reason being; Lemos didn’t think he would be given many minutes at Barcelona and preferred a longer stay at Las Palmas.
This summer the bidding war surrounding Lemos will be at least twice as big as it was last summer with the likes of Manchester City and Everton also expected to be involved. A repeat of Lemos’ sensible decision to stay seems to be off the cards, though, as he looks ready to fight for his place at the top level. But what would be a good next step for the rising star?
Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City, it would be foolish to think these clubs don’t get a player excited. It’s the ultimate stage for a player to operate on. And although it’s tempting, Lemos has already proven that he is not easily captivated. These clubs will come knocking again later on in his career if he keeps developing.
For now, however, a club that suits him best is Everton. Playing week-in-week-out for a team that challenges for European football and is managed by a top-level coach as Ronald Koeman will do wonders for Lemos. From Koeman he can learn a lot as the Dutchman himself was a world class ball-playing centre-back as well as a set-piece specialist. It would be a sensible next step for his career. At 21, it’s a perfect club for Lemos to keep developing and put himself in contention for a Uruguay call-up.