- Nationality: Uruguayan
- Age: 19
- Date of birth: 11/04/2001
- Current Club: CA Fénix
- Career: CA Fénix (Y)
- Position: defensive midfielder
- Secondary position: central midfielder
- Preferred foot: right
Manuel Ugarte mostly plays as a defensive midfielder for both CA Fénix and the youth teams of Uruguay. In the Pre Olympics, he managed to conquer a place in the starting line-up at the defensive midfielder position. He likes to play as a deep lying playmaker, as he both likes to get into possession in the first phase of the build up and to be able to defend well.
During the times that CA Fénix have possession in their own half, Manuel Ugarte mostly moves from left to right, depending on where the ball is. He sometimes could be more actively trying to switch sides to get into possession and to help out the central defenders or full-back when they are being put under pressure by the opponent.
The Uruguayan midfielder is a very good passer and is able to play out of pressure very well. However, he could be able to utilize this quality way more by being more active in the first phase of the build-up and switching sides quicker. This can help Fénix when they are being put under pressure, especially against better sides in a higher intensity game.
When he receives the ball on his own half and has space, Ugarte tends to progress up the pitch by running with the ball on his foot slowly. He looks over the ball to assess his options. The Uruguayan midfielder plays it sideways to one of the full-backs, plays it forward to one of the central midfielders or breaks lines to reach his striker. Also, he likes to play cross passes to the wings which he often did for Uruguay under 23.
After he has passed the ball towards one of the full-backs, he moves up the pitch without the ball to get into possession further up the pitch. This makes him receive the ball in space often when one of the full-backs plays it back to Ugarte. Manuel Ugarte is very effective at doing this and this, and some other aspects, makes him quite effective in the first phase of the build-up.
When Fénix have possession further up the pitch in the final third, Manuel Ugarte stays back, awaiting the ball to be cleared by the opponents to recover possession or to get into possession and spread the play. As both the wingers of CA Fénix and Uruguay under 23 liked to make an action when they get into possession, Ugarte does not receive the ball to spread the play too often.
The 19-year-old midfielder, born in the capital of Uruguay, has great passing ability. Ugarte likes to play it forward and always looks for options in front of him. He is a very accurate passer and has good vision to spot his teammates in space. Manuel Ugarte spots the man in space before he receives the ball and always picks out the right pass. He is at all times aware which is a great skill to have.
As mentioned above, he is quite effective in the first phase of the build-up and his very good passing helps him in being effective. Ugarte is a very good playmaker and would fit well in a team that likes to build-up patiently. Also, he has a great first touch and ball control and does not panic when is being put under pressure. Also, he is good with both feet which help him very much.
His technical abilities are certainly the biggest asset of Manuel Ugarte. His technique helps him to get his first touch right, even when he is being put under pressure aggressively. During the times that he can’t spot a teammate in space, he is able to get past his opponent using his decent on the ball acceleration and physicality to hold off his opponent. This means that Ugarte is very press-resistant as well.
Manuel Ugarte is not the player that will create a lot of chances every match, but he is certainly a player that can support the other midfielders to create chances and to create space for teammates by playing a risky pass towards the other central midfielders when they have moved themselves into space between the lines.
The 19-year-old midfielder likes to run with the ball, but at times he could be more aggressive in his runs to really progress up the pitch, rather than a few meters. Manuel Ugarte in my opinion certainly has the acceleration, technical abilities and awareness to make more progressive runs than he already does and to be more aggressive in his runs.
On to the defensive area, and here he uses his great understanding of the game as well. Ugarte reads the game very well which often helps him to anticipate well and being on time to intercept passes. He is almost never too late and does not miss many interceptions when he steps out. The Uruguayan midfielder likes to defend proactively.
The Fénix youth graduate can be aggressive in some duels, especially when he needs to fight with his opponent over a loose ball. In these duels, he uses his good acceleration and determination to be the first one to get to the ball. He positions himself well on the opposition half and is nearly always on time to fight for a loose ball or to recover possession.
When the opponents are building up patiently on their own half, Manuel Ugarte positions himself in the center between the defensive line and the midfield line and he tries to cut the passing lane towards the attacking midfielder or the striker. He checks his shoulder quite often which helps him to assess what movement his opponent makes. This helps him intercepting a lot of passes.
Ugarte covers the runs in behind by his opponent well, but gets into some difficulties at times when he needs to do this. As he cuts the passing lane and can position himself quite high up the pitch at times, he can be vulnerable when the opponent plays a long pass towards the striker. If the striker finds the attacking midfielder that makes a run, the attacking midfielder is in a lot of space.
This scenario happened a few times in both the competition and on international duty, but Manuel Ugarte manages to use his decent acceleration and pace to get back into possession to close the gap towards the attacking midfielder. It can also be said that the defensive line could move up the pitch a bit in these situations.
Also, an area in which Manuel Ugarte can improve is his smartness in the 1-on-1 duels on his own half. Against Defensor Sporting, he got dribbled past on a few occasions as he tried to be smart by blocking the ball passively rather than going for a more aggressive approach. This led to a few threatening situations in front of goal and to the 0-1 of Defensor Sporting.
Still, Manuel Ugarte is very good in defending. He makes a lot of interceptions because he reads the game very well and always thinks one step ahead of his opponent. He wins a lot of defensive duels because of his smartness, good physique and positioning in most duels. His smart positioning helps him to recover possession easily at times.
Manuel Ugarte has the strength to hold off his opponents when dribbling and it is not easy to push him off the ball. The 19-year-old stands at 1,82m. He uses his strength well to make sure that opponents can’t get to the ball in aerial duels, but he sometimes jumps under the ball. His pace and acceleration are decent, it’s above average.
He has okay stamina and often plays the full 90 minutes. He can keep his balance well as he often manages to stay on his feet when his opponent tries to push him off the ball. His agility is good, he can turn his opponent well even though he is not the quickest on the turn. His work rate and determination seem alright as well. He could be more active and aggressive at times, though.
Manuel Ugarte is one of the most exciting players in Uruguay at the moment and he has a bright future ahead of him. The 19-year-old midfielder is already ready to move to Europe and I think that he would fit very well in the Portuguese league, which can be described as a league in which both technical ability and physical ability are quite important.
The Uruguayan midfielder has his similarities to Gustavo Assunção, even though both players are slightly different in their playing style and can not fully be compared to each other. However, if Famalicão are looking for an Assunção replacement, I would definitely advise Famalicão to take a look at Manuel Ugarte.
As Famalicão often try to build up patiently, the defensive midfielder in Famalicão’s squad has an important role in the build-up play. As mentioned in this article, Manuel Ugarte is quite effective in the first phase of the build-up due to his great passing ability. He is press-resistant and able to play in the pivot role.
For FC Famalicão, it is important as well that the defensive midfielder positions himself well in the first phase of putting pressure and that he manages to recover possession on the opposition half often. Ugarte is more than able to do this, as he positions himself well on the opposition half and he wins a lot of defensive duels in the opposition half, as described in the article.
To conclude, I think that Manuel Ugarte already is a very good player and that he is capable to improve on his slight weaknesses in a better league that has more intensity. Again, I would advise FC Famalicão to sign Manuel Ugarte as a Gustavo Assunção replacement and I think that Ugarte has the potential to play for an above midtable team in the top 5 leagues.