'Historic' Sebastian Coates transfer a coup for Liverpool

Tim Sturtridge
Sunday 23 October 2011 01:29

Highly rated centre-back Sebastian Coates is on the verge of completing his move to Liverpool.

Uruguayan heavyweights Nacional received a fax this morning from the Anfield club meeting their £7m valuation of the defender. The deal concludes a month of intense transfer speculation surrounding the 2011 Copa America Young Player of the Tournament.

Nacional said all along that it would take an “historic” fee to convince them to part ways with the defender who stands just a few blond locks short of six foot six. The fee certainly smashes the previous Uruguayan record of £3.5m to take Nicolás Lodeiro from Nacional to Ajax but still represents a real coup for Liverpool.

On the downside for Nacional they will receive just over half of the cash after selling a portion of Coates’ rights for £100,000 to a third-party investment group while the player was still a trainee.

Liverpool were not the first club to wade in with a concrete offer for 20-year-old. FC Dnipro actually bid well over the asking price but the player refused a move to the Ukraine.

Manchester City were also sniffing around and even had top Uruguayan businessman Francisco "Paco" Casal doing their bidding for them. Following an injury to Mamadou Sakho it was also reported that Paris Saint-Germain were weighing up a move for El Flaco Coates.

With Coates’ agent Matias Pittini bombarded with a host of enquires from high profile clubs all over Europe credit must be given to Liverpool for stepping up their chase and securing the signature. Just as Luis Suárez convinced Lodeiro to come to Ajax it appears the striker has once again used his significant influence within Uruguay to get Coates to Anfield.

Aside from the off-the-field shenanigans, what exactly has Coates got in his locker? Let’s get the tired clichés out the way now; dominant in the air at both ends of the pitch, tends to stay on his feet but equally adapt at a last gasp lunge, great physicality to usher attackers off the ball, can walk the ball out of defence or ping a long pass off his right boot and he’s definitely not afraid to risk a booking.

Coates joined the Nacional academy at 11-years-old and broke into the first team seven years later. Before making his bow with Nacional the defender helped Uruguay finish third at the 2009 South American under-20 Championships.

Since making his debut for Nacional against Bella Vista on 18 April 2009 the Uruguayan has started every single game for the club, suspensions and national team duty withstanding. Despite only playing three months of the 2008/09 campaign his performances in the title winning team as well as on a run to the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores saw Coates named the 2008/09 Uruguayan Championship Revelation of the Season.

In the close season Coates traveled to Egypt to play at the under-20 World Cup where Uruguay went unbeaten in a group containing eventual champions Ghana. Below Uruguay and Ghana in the group came Uzbekistan and then England.

Although Nacional missed out on the league title the following year Coates’ stock continued to rise. His performance in Buenos Aires against Banfield in the Copa Libertadores was a joy to behold. Coates dictated the play at both ends of the pitch as he scored the opener and set up the second in the 2-0 win over the reigning Argentinian league champions.

Coates then missed out on a trip to South Africa despite being called up to Uruguay’s senior squad for their crucial play-off double header against Costa Rica. The defender would have to wait another year before winning his first cap. His international debut came in a friendly against Estonia just a week shy of the 2011 Copa America.

With injuries dogging both Diego Godín and Mauricio Victorino the door was left ajar for Coates to partner Diego Lugano in the heart of defence at the continental competition. A string of fine displays heralded the arrival of the latest uncompromising Uruguayan centre-back, a fighter for sure and a winner to boot.

Neymar’s name was already etched onto the Young Player of the Tournament award before a ball was even kicked in Argentina, but then Coates kicked Neymar into touch. The achievement may have paled into insignificance against winning Uruguay’s 15th Copa America title but the Young Player award seems now to have tipped the balance for Coates getting a work permit.

There’s been a touch of the Cesc Fabregas and Luka Modric about Coates’ inevitable transfer away from Parque Central but the Nacional youth product remained quiet and respectful throughout. He even answered his manager’s plea to play in the game against Defensor Sporting at the weekend despite still looking jaded following his Copa America exploits.

With this in mind it’s unlikely Kenny Dalglish will want to throw Coates into the fray immediately. Judging by some of Coates’ monstrous performances in el Clásico del fútbol Uruguayo against Peñarol the Merseyside derby may be the right time for Liverpool fans to judge what sort of player they have on their hands.

Sebastian Coates’ CV:

2011 Copa America winner

2011 Copa America Young Player of the Tournament

2010/11, 2008/09 Uruguayan Championship winner

2010/11 Uruguayan Championship Player of the Season

2010/11, 2009/10 Uruguayan Championship Defender of the Season

2008/09 Uruguayan Championship Revelation of the Season

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