Gustavo Puerta – The Captain of Colombia’s Future by Sebastian Ferro
Date of Birth: 23/07/2003 (19 years old)
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Midfielder/Attacking Midfielder
Height: cm (5’10”)
Weight: kg (lbs)
Strong Foot: Right
Youth: Bogota FC
Market Value: €350k (Transfermarkt)
Similar Players: Mason Mount or Juan Fernando Quintero
Gustavo Puerta is an exciting 19-year-old Colombian attacking midfielder that recently transferred from Bogota FC to Bayer Leverkusen. As one of the most exciting prospects in Colombian football that has already made a name for himself at home, a lot of speculation has been made as to how well he will adapt in Europe from the Colombian second division. In this blog, we will take an in depth look at Gustavo Puerta and what makes him so special; Leverkusen fans get ready.
Born in La Victoria, Colombia on July 23rd 2003, Gustavo Adolfo Puerta Molano rose through the ranks of Bogota FC’s youth academy and made his professional debut for the club at the young age of 17 in 2021. During his two seasons with Bogota FC, he quickly established himself as one of the most complete midfielders in the league, contributing to both the offensive and defensive phases of the game. At the international level, he has excelled as part of Colombia’s U-17 and U-20 team. He was named captain of the U-20 national team ahead of the 2023 South American Youth Championship. Having impressed numerous scouts with his technical abilities and creative flair on the ball, he left the Colombian second division and joined Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga on January 27th 2023 in a transfer deal worth over €2m. Shortly after the transfer was finalized he was loaned to FC Nurnberg in the German 2. Bundesliga for the rest of the season.
While capable of playing in a deeper role when without possession, Gustavo Puerta is an offensive minded central midfielder. He has a high work rate and is willing to drop deep in order to initiate build up play with the defenders. A direct player, he is constantly scanning the field looking to incorporate the forwards and wingers in order to initiate an attack. He has a strong right foot and is often playing long through balls over the top of defenders in order to catch the opposition flat footed. This also makes him very adept at taking corners and free place kicks and is the designated taker for both club and country.
Additionally, he is a very talented dribbler and will oftentimes run at defenders when looking to progress the ball into the attacking third. While skilled enough to take on defenders one on one, this also results in winning set piece opportunities as he also has the awareness to place himself between the defender and the ball in order to win a foul.
As mentioned earlier, he is a complete midfielder who is also capable of contributing with his defensive attributes. While not physically imposing, he uses smart positioning to find himself in the right place to win the ball back and quickly initiate a counter attacking opportunity. When his team is not capable of playing directly over the top of the opposition, he looks to drop back and link up play between the defenders and other midfielders to regain tempo and control of the game.
As mentioned earlier he is not physically imposing at 171 cm and 73 kgs and has difficulty with aerial duels and 50-50 balls in the midfield. While a talented dribbler, he does occasionally look to do too much and hold on to the ball for too long. He may be looking to win his team a foul but this does result in a turnover for the opposition on occasion. Lastly, he may have the spatial awareness and vision to identify teammates that are in position to receive a switch of play or through ball over the top, however he still needs to refine his crossing and long passes in order to maximize these opportunities. There have been occasions where the pass is available but the ball does not reach a teammate accurately. Fortunately these traits can be refined with the correct coaching and training targets.
Game film notes:
Colombia U20 v Ecuador U20 11/27/2022
- Strong close ball control, comfortable on the ball, comfortable with defensive pressure
- Active in all facets of the midfield including willing to track back and initiate play after receiving the ball from gk/cb
- Direct style of play looking to initiate attack and be involved in the offensive build up or final ball. Complete midfielder
- Strong work rate, strong right foot as seen by fks and corners taken by him
- Areas to improve include long passes and crosses. Good vision to identify switch passes and lobbed through balls to initiate counter attack, final pass needs to be tightened
Bogota FC v Boyaco Chico 9/12/2022
- Occupies a more offensive role than with the national team
- Looking to generate play in the attacking third and much more involved in build up
- Ball control is a strength, looks to have the ball on his feet and play through a defender, at the expense of turning over the ball at times however
- Yellow card due to reactionary tackle after losing possession
- Capable in winning the ball back and tackling, occupies deeper space in defense and has a strong work rate
- Very direct player has the vision to identify switch play, through balls and crosses, just needs to refine ability to land the pass accurately
Bogota FC v Tigres 8/29/2022
- Started the game in a more advanced role, recipient of long balls/aerial balls
- Mixed results due to height (5 ft 7 in)
- Poor touch after receiving the ball in own half led to opposition goal
- Work rate and attitude increased as game went on
- Dropped deeper late in game resulting in effective link up play and short distribution
- Several set piece opportunities nearly delivered a goal, long free kick attempting to connect with teammates
Gustavo Puerta, while still very raw, is a player with huge potential at both the club and international level. His move to Bayer Leverkusen is a significant step in his career and only time can tell if he will be able to adapt to a league with a much higher level of pace and technicality. Bayer have taken this into consideration and have immediately loaned him out to Bundesliga 2. side FC Nurnberg for the rest of the season. Playing in the German second division for the next few months should be a manageable step up for a player of Puerta’s caliber and will be extremely beneficial for his progression. Additionally, Bayer Leverkusen has built a reputation for identifying and fostering young talents and as such they have the third youngest season in the Bundesliga at 24.6 years of age this season. With a young roster, including a lot of depth at center midfield, Puerta will hopefully be able to work his way in the main rotation upon his return from loan. Throw in the fact that Puerta will be coached by Xabi Alonso, one of the greatest midfielders of their generation, there are many factors that make his transfer extremely exciting. It will be interesting to see how he develops over the next few years, but there is no doubt that Gustavo Puerta is a player to keep an eye on in the future.