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Bought by FC Porto in the summer of 2013, Juan Fernando Quintero’s performances in pre-season friendlies, notably in the prestigious Emirates Cup tournament in London, and then early in the 2013/14 campaign, appeared to indicate the northerners had struck gold again.
An exhilarating dribbler, powerful shooter – usually with his magical left foot – and an eye for a killer pass, the Colombian seemed set to spread the gold dust at the Estádio do Dragão as a direct replacement for his compatriot James Rodriguez, who left for Monaco in the same transfer window.
The two have been friends since their childhood days, and Rodriguez had no doubt that his international team-mate would prove a success at Porto, confidently predicting: “Quintero’s going to shine brightly. He’s a great player and can only grow at a club like FC Porto. It’s only a question of time before he makes his mark there.”
Few disagreed after Quintero’s first outings in a Porto shirt. Within a minute of coming on as a substitute in Porto’s first league match of the season against Vitória Setúbal he scored a thunderous long-distance left-footer, and his zippy and unshackled style of play quickly made him popular among the fans and critics alike, so much so that coach Paulo Fonseca was faced with a barrage of questions as to why he started so few matches. “Quintero’s quality means he’ll soon force me to make him a starter,” responded Fonseca.
But the early promise proved a false dawn. Quintero failed to hold down a place in the side and was powerless to invert a disastrous 2013/14 for Porto. The Dragons completely rebuilt their squad in the close season, but the diminutive forward avoided the clear-out and the club made it abundantly clear they continued to believe in him.
Unfortunately, this year Quintero has again found it difficult to impose himself, spending more time on the bench than on the pitch. He continues to show flashes of brilliance in his sporadic appearances, the clinically taken winner against Braga with that trusty left foot a good example. But Quintero’s growing frustration at lack of opportunities has gone hand in hand with Porto losing patience with his lack of development.
As is often the case, what is notionally an advantage for a player, flexibility, is actually part of the problem. Quintero has chopped and changed from a winger to a No10, showing undoubted ability but extreme inconsistency in both roles. He lacks positional discipline and his decision making is questionable, to put it kindly.
The fact little progress has been made to eradicate these failings in almost two seasons at Porto – under three different coaches – raises questions about his football brain, or lack thereof.
In Quintero’s defence, for one reason or another, occasional injury setbacks included, he has never been given a prolonged stint as a regular in the side. Having only recently turned 22, should a manager at Porto or elsewhere smoothen out the rough edges and fully harness his obvious talent, Quintero is still in time to enjoy a highly successful career.
Written by Tom Kundert
Follow Tom on Twitter @Portu_Goal
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