Luciano Rodriguez: The Uruguayan Mbappé by Sebastian Ferro

Luciano Rodriguez: The Uruguayan Mbappé by Sebastian Ferro

Date of Birth: 16/07/2003 (20 years old)
Nationality: Uruguayan
Club: Liverpool FC (Montevideo)
Position: Center Forward, Left Winger, Right Winger
Height: 179cm (5 ft. 10 in)
Weight: 79 kg (174 lbs)
Strong Foot: Right
Youth: Club Atletico Progreso
Market Value: €3.5m (Transfermarkt)

Similar Players: Joao Felix, Marcus Rashford

Luciano Rodriguez is a versatile and technical 20 year old center forward that has become one recognized as one of the most exciting prospects in world football in recent months. Capable of playing across the front line, Rodriguez has excelled in several positions this season for his hometown club of Liverpool FC in Montevideo, Uruguay. However, where Rodriguez has really shone has been with the Uruguayan U-20 national where he and his teammates have had the prestigious honor of winning the U-20 World Cup. Luciano Rodriguez also reached the final of the South American Youth Championship with Uruguay before eventually losing to Brazil in the final. Capable of scoring when the lights are brightest, there is no doubt that Luciano Rodriguez, labeled by many at home as the “craziest” forward since Sebastian Abreu, will join a long and fabled list of world class forwards from Uruguay.

Player History

Luciano Rodriguez was born on July 16th, 2003 in Montevideo, Uruguay and has spent most of his formative years playing for youth academies in his home city. Eventually Rodriguez settled down with the academy of C.A Progreso and eventually graduated in 2020. Luciano Rodriguez was then promptly called up to the first team during the 2021 season and made his debut shortly after against Montevideo City Torque on January 17 2021. From that point onwards Rodriguez became a regular on the first team for Progreso, racking up 7 goals in 51 appearances across the 2021 and 2022 season. Rodriguez impressed enough across those two seasons to earn a high profile move to fellow Uruguayan side Liverpool, no not that one, Montevideo in December of 2022.  The fee for Rodriguez was equivalent to approximately 466k Euros which is actually the club record fee for a departure for C.A Progreso. Since joining Liverpool Montevideo Rodriguez has scored 3 times and assisted 2 times across 16 appearances in all competitions. That includes 3 appearances in the Copa Libertadores group stage where Rodriguez was not able to get on the scoresheet and did not qualify for the knockout round.

At the international level Rodriguez has been a regular feature for the Uruguayan U-20s, racking up 39 appearances since 2022. At the U20 South American Championship earlier this year Rodriguez was an absolute star, racking up 5 goals alongside fellow Uruguayans Fabricio Diaz and Alvaro Rodriguez and ended up going all the way to the final before losing to Brazil. Additionally, Rodriguez was phenomenal during the U20 World Cup earlier this summer. While his goalscoring record was less prolific this time around, the one goal he did score in the World Cup was a powerful header in the 86th minute against Italy to win the final for Uruguay. Luciano Rodriguez was called up to the Uruguayan national team for the first time for a friendly against Cuba on June 20th, 2023, however he remained on the bench and has yet to make his debut.

Playing Style

Luciano Rodriguez is a right footed attacking player that is capable of playing in several roles across the front line. He most commonly features in the starting line up as a right sided forward for both club and country but during the course of the game can be found in central attacking areas or on the left hand side. While he often starts out wide he isn’t a traditional winger and he doesn’t like to cross the ball into attacking areas for other forwards. Instead he uses his speeding and technical abilities to run at defenders head on, and either lay the ball off with short passes or take the shot on goal himself. Luciano has a penchant for taking shots from outside of the box and has the power and ball striking ability to successfully score from range. During counter attacking opportunities Rodriguez is often the target for out balls and while he may not be physically imposing enough to the target man he is extremely dangerous driving at defenders with the ball at his feet. His defensive workrate out of possession is very strong and he will constantly press the backline and goalkeeper in the hopes of forcing a turnover for the full 90 minutes. He is still very early in his development and needs to refine some of the finer points of his game such as his decision making in the final third and improving the quality of his shooting. However if he is able to do so and apply those skills at the highest level, he could be the next in a long line of elite Uruguayan forwards.

Game Footage

Luciano Rodriguez is capable of playing anywhere across a front three, early in the game he makes a dangerous off the ball run in the left half space and in a later part of the game makes a driving run off the ball in the right wide area.

With his pace, athleticism and dribbling Rodriguez is extremely dangerous in counter attacking situations and will gladly drive at the opposite backline as seen during this match.

Luciano Rodriguez is a powerful ball striker and will relish taking shots outside the box as seen here where he scores the matching free kick from deep.

Rodriguez has a strong work rate and will press the opposition backline for the full 90 minutes. Here he harries two opposition players to force a turnover and win a foul during the immediate counter.

Game notes

Game 1: Liverpool M. v C.A Fenix – Torneo Intermedio (21-07-2023)

  • Featured as a RW in a 4-3-3
  • Named a starter and played the full 90 minutes
  • Held a fluid position across the forward line, frequently inverted centrally with his off the ball runs
  • Used his pace and dribbling to effectively burn Fenix on the counter, looked comfortable running at defenders
  • Looked to hang around the edge of the penalty box when offense has sustained period in opposing final third, often looked to take a shot from outside the box
  • When building out the back, GK and defense looked to play long balls aerially to Rodriguez with mixed results
  • Could improve decision making in the final third, occasionally holding the ball for too long. However, was involved in the build up that led to the game winning penalty decision.
  • Maintained a strong workrate, looked to press and win the ball back for the full 90 minutes

Game 2: Liverpool M. v Plaza Colonia – Torneo Intermedio (15-07-2023)

  • Featured as a RW in a 4-3-3
  • Named a starter and played the full 90 minutes
  • Held a fluid position across the forward line but excelled in a more central role particularly after the center forward was sent off
  • Used his pace, dribbling and off ball movement to frequently find space during offensive build up, looked sharp off of the counter
  • Played a more focal role in the penalty box and was often on the receiving end of crosses, looked more effective in a SS position building up play
  • Was man marked very heavily and was on the receiving end of several fouls, GK and defense looked to play long balls aerially to Rodriguez with mixed results
  • Decent decision making and ball striking in the final third, scored with a one touch finish inside the box. Found several opportunity to take a shot on goal
  • Maintained a strong workrate, looked to press and win the ball back for the full 90 minutes

Game 3: Liverpool FC vs C.A Cerro – Torneo Intermedio (Final: 08-07-2023)

  • Featured as a RW in a 4-3-3
  • Named a starter and played the full 90 minutes
  • Stayed near the right wide space but cut inside often, during counters he attacked the central areas
  • Struggled to get in the build up as he was marked heavily, effective in rapid build up thanks to his devastating pace and dribbling
  • Often isolated on the right hand side, more effective near the right half space to link up with the central forward
  • Was man marked very heavily but was able win several fouls in dangerous areas in the attacking third 
  • GK and defense looked to play long balls aerially to Rodriguez with mixed results
  • Decent decision making in the final third despite being heavily marked, did not have too many opportunities on goal except for hitting the crossbar from distance and wasting a couple chances inside the penalty area
  • Maintained a strong workrate, looked to press and win the ball back for the full 90 minutes

Game 4: Liverpool FC v Deportivo Maldonado – Torneo Intermedio (03-07-2023)

  • Featured as a 10/SS a 4-3-3
  • Named a substitute and came on at the start of the second half
  • Occupied central area but looked to link up play and overload right half space and wide area
  • Played very direct and looked dangerous on the counter, ran directly at the backline and generated several attacking opportunities
  • An effective dribbler and won several set pieces in the attacking third
  • Excellent on set pieces, scored the match winner from a free kick outside the opponents penalty box
  • High intensity work rate and looked to press and win the ball back across several areas of the pitch

Game 5: Liverpool FC v Corinthians – Copa Libertadores (28-6-2023)

  • Featured as a RW  in a 4-3-3
  • Named a starter and featured the full 90 minutes
  • Did not have many touches on the ball, regardless made intelligent off ball runs
  • Had a high work rate and won back possession with effective pressing 
  • Effective dribbler and won several fouls throughout the match
  • Was wasteful in the final third with the few opportunities received

What’s Next?

Given his exceptional ability and potential the transfer rumors have begun to swirl around Luciano Rodriguez, especially after his exceptional performances in the U20 World Cup and South American Youth Championship. Already some of the world’s biggest clubs including Real Madrid and Barcelona have been interested in acquiring the talented Uruguayan. In my personal opinion, while moving abroad is extremely appealing, Rodriguez should continue his development in the Uruguayan First Division prior to making a move abroad. What is most important at this time for Rodriguez at this time is to feature regularly at the first team level which he is currently doing across several competitions in South America. Having only just signed in January of this year, Rodriguez should continue to make his mark in the Uruguayan First Division in order to prove to scouts abroad he is ready for the next challenge. He has the technical ability and raw athleticism to excel at this level but needs to refine some of the finer points of his game in order to truly develop as a world class talent. Personally I would love to see him develop into a more central forward and think that some of his finer abilities are wasted on the wing. His performances at the international youth level show that he is clearly ahead of his peers but he needs to apply his skills with more consistency at the club level to prove he is ready to compete at the highest level. Regardless of his need for development Rodriguez has massive potential and can soon hope to become a regular starter for a top league in Europe. With his pace, technique and ever improving finishing, do not be surprised when “Uruguayan Mbappe” is regarded as the next legendary no. 9 from Montevideo.

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