Of all the playing positions in football, the defenders are always believed to be the ones who reach the top of their game in the latter half of their 20s. Unlike attacking positions, where an error might not lead to very drastic consequences – at most the player will miss a chance to score – the errors from defenders are often fatal.
If a defending player misses an impending tackle, he risks the opponent getting in an advantageous position, possibly clear through on goal. If he is late on a tackle, it could result in a sending off or, in an even worse scenario, might cause serious damage to the player at the receiving end of the tackle. If he doesn’t see the play in advance, chances are he could be just a bystander as the opposition puts the ball in back of the net.
Due to all these reasons, defenders are believed to get better with age and experience. The more situations they become part of, it all adds to their game as they grow into their roles. No wonder then that most of the top quality defenders in the world are in their later 20s or 30s.
However, if there is one young player who can easily lay claim to be regarded amongst the very best central defenders in the world, then Jose Gimenez is it.
The central defender, who started his professional career at Uruguayan outfit Danubio in November 2012 at just 16 years of age, was quickly acquired by Atletico Madrid in April 2013 at a price of just under a million Euros.
It didn’t take long for Los Rojiblancos’ boss Diego Simeone to give the youngster his debut for the Vicente Calderon outfit as Gimenez started in a 4-2 win over Almeria in September 2013. Since then, the Uruguayan has just grown and grown to become an indispensable presence in what has become the best defence in European football.
The 21-year-old is a mobile, aggressive, tough-tackling and aerially-dominant centre-back. Yes, basically a throw-back to the old times, but very technical as well. Gimenez is never afraid to venture forward to score a goal or two. And his willingness to throw his body on the line to foil an opposition attack is a joy to watch.
Future at Atletico Madrid
That debut game against Almeria was the only league match that Gimenez played in his first season at the Madrid outfit. However, he went on play 20 league matches the following season and is now the first-choice centre-back with his compatriot Diego Godin, forming a partnership that conceded the least goals in a league campaign that almost resulted in a second title in three years.
He will be a starter in the Champions League final against Real Madrid later this month and there is no doubt that it is just one of the biggest games that he plays for the side that he is likely to stay at for a very long time to come.
Prospects with the national team
He made his senior international debut in a 2014 World Cup qualifier against Colombia on 10th September 2013 – a date so important that he has got it tattooed! He later became the youngest Uruguayan debutante at a World Cup.
There is no doubt that he will reprise his club partnership with Godin later this summer at the Copa America. And he is bound to be a star for La Celeste for a long time to come.