People at Liverpool know him. People in England know who he is. Argentina is waiting for him. The rest of the world will soon open their eyes.
Built like a bull (still growing mind you) and equipped with technical ability of a left back who wants to patrol the entire left side of the pitch. Endowed with a first touch and dribbling skills that make the touchline his friend instead of his foe. Blessed with a crossing ability that strikers drool over. That’s all you need to know about Emiliano Insua.
Not only is he blessed with talent but he’s also a boy who would take the ball between his teeth and run through a wall, only to emerge on the other side unscathed to tell you “Piece of cake… test me harder”.
This is a guy who’s had to do it the hard way. Swapping a youth team in his native country for a youth team in a country completely foreign to him at only 18, must have been difficult. Hundreds of players do this every year in Europe and a very small percentage ever see senior football at their new clubs. At Liverpool alone there are 5-6 foreign youth players arriving at the Academy every year. How many have made it in the last 10 years? The common sense answer would be around 5. The reality is zero. It is a testament to Insua’s qualities both on and off the pitch that he’s singlehandedly trying to change this trend.
Another thing worth remembering is that Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has tried to restructure Liverpool’s youth Academy several times and each time the people of the old regime, both players and coaches, have been let go in favor of the people representing the new regime. Only one player has genuinely survived the changes. Insua.
Just to illustrate Insua’s current level of development and to show that 20 year old full backs are rarely this good at this stage of their career we need look no further than two of the best full backs in the history of Argentine football, Juan Pablo Sorin (76 caps) and Javier Zanetti (132 caps). At Insua’s exact age, Sorin had just signed for Juventus after an average spell in Argentina’s lower ranks and was not deemed good enough to establish himself in Italian football. At the age of 21 he had to go back to Argentine football and try and prove himself in more familiar surroundings. Zanetti, considered by many to be the best Argentinian full back of all times, was still playing in Argentina’s 2nd best division, at Talleres, at Insua’s age.
Insua, on the other hand, has already played 18 competitive games, spread over 3 seasons, for one of the best teams in the world and looks more than likely to double that tally this year. By the time the World Cup comes around next summer he could be on the plane to South Africa with more than 50 first team games for Liverpool and a chance to shine at the biggest stage, at the age of 21.
The Argentine international setup knows Insua which is why he’s played for both the U21 and U23 team. They know his qualities better than anybody. What they cannot do is make him a part of the senior setup until he grabs a place in the Liverpool team. That would be disrespectful to Gabriel Heinze and Emiliano Papa. Make no mistake though, they’re waiting for the day they can justify calling him up.
All this is in the future though. At this moment he will just have to settle for being more successful than his biggest idols Zanetti and Sorin were at his age.