On August 10th, Brighton & Hove Albion FC announced their new signing for the upcoming season – Colombian winger, Jose Heriberto Izquierdo Mena. Transfer fee of €17.8M which makes him the most expensive signing ever of the modest club. Brighton is one of the promoted clubs to the Premier League this season and their main target will obviously be to avoid relegation. Can Izquierdo help them to achieve their goal?
The 25-year-old Colombian international born in Pereira, Colombia and started his professional career with the local team of his hometown, Deportivo Pereira in 2010. He showed his potential at a young age which made his coaches to give him the opportunities to play. Pereira was relegated in 2011 but Izquierdo stayed in the club and became their most important player. Although he couldn’t help them to promote again to the first division, he played very well and finished with 10 goals in 2012. It was enough for Once Caldas to sign him in July 2013.
Young Jose Izquierdo with the uniforms of Deportivo Pereira at the beginning of his career
With “Los Blancos” from Manizales Izquierdo continued to perform very good versus the best teams in the country. He was one of the best young players in the league and one of its revelation. 13 goals in 45 matches with Once Caldas was enough for the scouts to write down his name in their books. After a wonderful experience with Carlos Bacca, Belgian side, Club Brugge, decided to gamble on young Izquierdo as their new winger on August 29th 2014 for just €3.8M. Unlike Bacca, Izquierdo started to impress right away. He scored 15 goals in 44 matches, leading Brugge to win the cup, Europa League quarter-final and to finish domestic league as runner-up.
Was the revelation of the Colombian league while playing for Once Caldas
Naturally expectations from him just increased in the following season and Izquierdo became even more important to Brugge, their best player. He didn’t score much, only 7 goals, although his position doesn’t force him to be the top scorer every year. Instead, he was vital to his club by his presence in the field and was involved in many of the team’s goals. Brugge won the league title and finish as the cup runner-up, when achieved his biggest achievement and was chosen for the best player in the league.
He was chosen for the best player in the Belgian league in 2016
Despite his great achievements in Europe, national team coach, Jose Pekerman, still didn’t give him a chance to wear the yellow jersey, not even in friendly matches. Izquierdo continued to work and registered last season his best so far in his career: 16 goals in 34 matches, but it wasn’t enough for Brugge who finished once again as runner-up. After his last season, even Pekerman couldn’t ignore him anymore and invited him for the first time on May 30th 2017, for two friendly matches against Spain and Cameroon. While he came as a sub 3 minutes from time vs. the Spanish, he played 30 minutes six days later vs. Cameroon, and scored his first international goal in the 85th minute and Colombia won 4-0.
Made his first appearance in the national team on June 2017
Although played sometimes as a striker, Izquierdo is an attacking winger, usually plays in the left side. He is very fast, very good technique, very good ball control, the type of attacking players who can create chances for themselves or for the team. This is why he shouldn’t be judged only according his goals, but also according his great job by setting clear chances for his teammates. He is a very good dribbler but in the Premier League, where the level is much higher and the defense is much stronger, it’ll be his true test whether he can play with the ‘big guys’. If he will continue to improve like he did so far during his career, not only that he will help Brighton to achieve its goal but also won’t remain there for long.
Take a look at some of Izquierdo’s performances in Brugge last season.