Stalin Valencia is an 18-year-old Ecuadorian central defender who moved to Pumas UNAM after playing in LDU Quito’s youth academy. The left-footed defender also featured for Ecuador under 20 and originally stood out for me in the U20 Copa Libertadores. After that, I also saw him for LDU Quito under 19 and Ecuador under 20.
The Ecuadorian defender stands at around 1.85 meters with a muscular build and has good upper body strength. Valencia is physically impressive in the duels and often dominates his opponents with his strength in the duels. Despite his muscular frame, Valencia is pretty quick on the turn and he changes directions fairly quickly. He has okay pace on the first few meters but is capable of increasing his speed over longer distances. In aerial duels, he looked secure and dominant because he has a good leap.
Stalin Valencia is composed in defence, and despite rarely making mistakes, he is a complete defender. He has decent defensive decision-making and rarely gets caught out of position. Valencia likes to defend far from his own goal but is also capable of defending in a lower block, which he showed for Ecuador U20.
On the ball, the Ecuadorian defender always tries to play it out from the back and seeks to provide good ball progression for his side. Valencia sometimes makes mistakes in possession, as especially his long passing is still a bit inconsistent. Generally, his short passing is pretty secure. His technique is alright but there is room for improvement.
There is no doubt that Stalin Valencia possesses a lot of talent. He has a good frame for a central defender and is very mobile for a defender of his build. Valencia is composed on the ball and likes to play it out from the back. He has relatively good speed and athleticism too.
I would have preferred to see him in Europe in a decent youth set up where he could have joined the U21’s or U23’s, but Mexico has proved to be a good stepping stone for players that want to move to Europe. He could follow the footsteps of Arteaga and move to the Belgian league in two to three years.