- Nationality: Venezuelan
- Age: 19
- Date of birth: 19/02/2001
- Current Club: Monagas SC (L)
- Career: Deportivo Lara (Y)
- Position: central defender
- Preferred foot: right
Héctor Maestre is a 19-year-old central defender from Venezuela who currently plays on loan at Monagas SC. He is on loan from Deportivo Lara that also plays in the first tier of Venezuelan football. Maestre is able to play as right central defender, left central defender but also able to play as a right-back. However, his best position definitely is right central defender, despite the fact that he only has played as a left central defender this season. The Venezuelan youngster was a starter in three out of six matches this season. In these three matches, Monagas SC did not concede a goal.
Monagas SC are a team that likes to play attacking football and build from the back. Both central defenders do not stand out in their ball-playing ability, but both are good enough to pick out the right pass and find their teammates. They often play in a 4-4-2 formation with very attacking-minded wide midfielders who in reality play as wingers rather than midfielders. The Venezuelan club from Maturín like to put pressure on the opposition when Monagas lose the ball, but it sometimes does not seem that organized.
Especially against weaker sides like Maracay, they play a very high defensive line and the defence needs to defend with a lot of space in their back. This means that both central defenders often need to choose whether they defend passively or aggressively and whether they step out often to try to win possession back early. In reality, most Venezuelan football teams decide to regroup and keep possession when they regain possession and they play more direct only sporadically. Also, they often build down the wing and have the wingers, wide central midfielders and full-backs link up.
Moving on to Maestre’s positioning when the opposition recover possession and it can be seen that his starting position is near the halfway line, close to his partner in defence (often Brondani). The Venezuelan defender does not often defend proactively far from his own goal, but when a pass is played into the opponents’ striker he likes to step out of the defensive line to come in front of his opponent, which he always does well and I could not spot any mistakes when he did this. Not all interceptions come from doing this of course, but in the three matches he started for Monagas he made 21 interceptions.
On two occasions, Maestre defended high up the opponents half very aggressively and in both cases he made the right decision to step out the defensive line aggressively and intercept the passes. On one of these two occasions, he already saw what pass the opposition was going to play and he timed his interception to perfection. In this duel, he showed that he has decent acceleration and that he is relatively quick in the first few meters. However, he often is quite passive when he needs to defend on the opposition half and chooses his moments to do so very well. In the three matches that he started for Monagas, only 5 of his 37 recoveries were on the opposition half.
When the opposition have possession in the midfield third and are looking to find a through pass in behind, Maestre his body shape tells us that he anticipates well on runs in behind. His feet are directed towards his own goal, while his body and head are sideways and often faced towards the ball or Maestre’s surroundings. This helps the Venezuelan to cover possible runs in behind and act quickly when an opponent makes a run in behind. Also, his reaction speed is very quick and he often covers the danger before there is any.
Also, doing this covers a weaker side of Maestre, which was shown but not provided any danger for Maestre or Monagas as the 19-year-old often solves the problem smartly. Héctor Maestre is not the quickest on the turn and this is something that he should train on often. This weakness was only seen sporadically and he did not get into any trouble, as he was smart to pull the shirt of the opponent slightly which got him back into the duels without giving away a foul.
Héctor Maestre does not get into too many 1-vs-1 defensive duels where he needs to defend the winger carrying the ball. Only once he needed to defend a winger that was carrying the ball and in this movement, he showed that he has decent pace and that he defends passively in these duels. Maestre forced the winger to go on the outside and had a good body position. He could keep up well with the winger and intercepted the cross.
However, in a match he comes into the defensive duels with the striker very often. In these duels, he defends aggressively as he closes the gap down very quickly and tries to intercept the ball immediately, not giving the opponent the time to think about a next move. This works very good often as he wins a lot of these duels as he keeps calm and looks at the ball while doing this, so that he can just touch the ball to get the ball of his opponent instead of giving away a foul by being too aggressive and wild. This can be seen in the statistics as well, as Maestre only gave away 2 fouls in the three matches he started.
As mentioned above, he often tries to get in front of his opponent to recover possession easily and times this well always. In some defensive duels, he can not recover possession immediately and when this happens, he gets back into position quickly and he does not follow the opponent around and thus gets not dragged out of position by doing this. In total, he won 14 out of 19 defensive duels in the three matches that he started for Monagas SC. Héctor Maestre seems very strong, confident and dominant in both the defensive duels and the 1-vs-1 duels.
When the opponents play a cross from the left side of the pitch (viewing from Maestre’s perspective), the 19-year-old Venezuelan central defender positions himself well and scans often to keep track of the running man in his back. Often, he positions himself in the passing lane and keeps scanning to see where the man in his back runs to. Héctor Maestre manages to clear a lot of crosses and in the three matches that he started for Monagas SC, he made 11 clearances. During corners, Maestre likes to try to block his opponent off and this worked quite well, especially against Carabobo FC.
In the aerial duels, the 19-year-old is just as dominant as in the ground duels. He does not back off in the aerial duels and runs through opponents when it is needed, without losing his calmness and awareness. This could be seen when he avoided running against the opponent that wanted to block him off using a good feint and heading the ball clear after. However, at some point he also ran through his opponent and showed determination in the aerial duels to win them.
However, he does not win the aerial duels purely because he shows determination. Maestre also times his jump very well and seems to jump higher than his opponents every time. Also, he seems to be judging high balls well and does not jump under the ball. In the three matches that he started for Monagas in the Venezuelan league this year, he won 8 out of 12 aerial duels. There is room for improvement though, as he sometimes just heads it clear, when he has the time to look for options and could find his teammate instead of just heading it clear.
The 19-year-old Venezuelan defender is comfortable on the ball when he can play the pass with his right foot, but sometimes has trouble using his left foot as his passing technique with his left foot is average. This can lead to problems when the central defender gets put under pressure and Maestre runs with the ball to the left, which eventually leads to Maestre needing to play a long pass with his left foot. This can be seen in the statistics as well, as he only completed 8 out of the 19 long passes.
What needs to be said is that his passing technique with his right foot is functional and that he is able to switch play by playing cross passes. Also, he occasionally finds a teammate between the lines but he is definitely not a ball-playing central defender who excels in passing. In addition to this, he is quite inconsistent when it comes to dealing with pressure. At times, he does well to control the ball and turn away from his opponent, but on other occasions he just boots it clear and does not seem to be that calm.
When the 19-year-old is in possession in the defensive or midfield third, he tends to carry the ball for a few meters while looking over the ball to see which passing options he has. Often, he chooses for a simple option towards the left central midfielder, left-back or right central defender. Also, Maestre occasionally tries to dribble it out from the back and he often does quite well, but he overestimated himself at one occasion, running into a busy area and eventually losing the ball.
Héctor Maestre forms a good central defensive partnership with Igor Brondani, who is a 25-year-old central defender that likes to defend proactively and steps out of the defensive line very often. When either Brondani or Maestre leaves the defensive line, the other one covers the space that is created in their back and they are very disciplined in doing so. Especially Maestre does this always and positions himself well every time.
There is no information available on his height, but I assume that he is around the 1,85m mark. He is very dominant and strong in the physical duels and even though he is not the quickest in the turn, he can recover from that because of his smartness in the duels, as I mentioned above. He keeps his balance well in the ground duels but can lose his balance in aerial duels, falling on the ground after he won an aerial duel. His stamina and work rate did not stand out but were good.
His decision-making in the defensive area is very good, but he did not seem to coach his teammates that often even though his defensive partnership with Brondani is very good and they seem to work together very well.
Héctor Maestre is a very smart defender but above all a very dominant, strong and good defender who is able to play for either Zamora FC or Caracas FC, even though he only played three matches on the highest level. His performances were this impressive that he seemed to be playing at a level below his current level. However, if he ever wants to move to a top ten European league, he needs to work on his left foot, agility, defensive headers and calmness in possession at times, besides working on his already decent abilities.
To conclude, I think that Hector Maestre could already play for a midtable team in the Colombian, Ecuadorian or Paraguayan league and that he should play next to a ball-playing central defender who defends proactively, as Maestre is at best as a right central defender who is tasked to cover the back of his partner in defence. However, moving to Caracas or Zamora would be the best idea as he can gain experience in the Venezuelan league, while also playing in the Copa Libertadores or Copa Sudamericana.