At the tender age of just 16-years-old, Racing Club’s Gonzalo Escudero is a centre-back with the world at his feet. Having joined the Avellaneda side’s academy at a young age, Escudero’s rise through Racing’s youth system has been swift. In January of 2023, at the age of 15, the left-footed defender earned his place in the starting XI of Racing’s reserve side. Escudero’s talents haven’t gone unnoticed among the coaches of Argentina’s youth sides, either, with the defender boasting regular call-ups throughout multiple age categories. Most recently, he represented his nation at the 2023 Sudamericano U-17 tournament.
When first watching Escudero, what’s immediately striking is his physical profile. The teenager doesn’t possess the most muscular of builds – though I’d expect him to fill out as he further matures – but when speaking to, in particular, his height, I’d say by any standard he’s very well developed for someone so young. Naturally, this aids Escudero immensely when duelling aerially. There are still some elements linked in with his aerial capabilities which he’d be well served fine-tuning, such as the timing of his jumps, for example. But the natural advantage of his height certainly gives him the upper-hand more often than not. The 16-year-old’s innately long strides enable him to speedily eat up ground, whether that be when striding forward with the ball or recovering.
In possession lie many of Escudero’s biggest selling-points. Having first watched him at 15-years-old, I can say with complete honesty that I’ve seldom been as impressed with a centre-back’s on-ball ability at such an age. The defender boasts a broad skill-set with the ball at his feet. He’s equally as adept at stepping up with the ball and opting to break lines via passes and carries as he is at splitting an opposition back-line with an inch-perfect ball either over the top or down the channel. His passing range is eye-catching. Escudero possesses both the vision to recognise, and the technique to execute a varied catalogue of passes. In addition to this, I put a lot of weight behind the intelligence he displays when stepping up with the ball at his feet. His aim, more often than not, being to create improved passing angles. Constantly looking to progress the ball, but not to his team’s potential detriment.
As previously alluded to in this report, Escudero routinely displays understanding of how and when to create improved passing angles, though his in-game intelligence isn’t solely limited to situations in which he has the ball at his feet. The defender’s seemingly innate knowledge of both when to drop off and when to step in is an aspect of his game that enables him to stand out. His impressive reading of situations allows him to, for the most part, avoid erratic challenges and, in turn, snuff out danger swiftly and effectively. One of the teenager’s tendencies is to frequently scan, providing him with constant awareness of his surroundings. Obviously, at such a young age mistakes can – and will – happen, but I’d expect Escudero’s already largely excellent game-reading to only improve over time.
At the time of writing, Gonzalo Escudero has only just recently celebrated his 16th birthday, so with that in mind, I’d not expect a first-team debut in the immediate future. That being said, given the physical profile he boasts, coupled with his technical base, it’ll only be a matter of time. I’d imagine that, soon enough, his will be a name spoken about in the same breath as some big European clubs. By and large, left-footed central defenders are highly sought after commodities in today’s game, and Escudero is certainly no exception.