There’s something about left-footed Argentinians that play in an offensive role, either their starting position on the pitch is in the middle or from the right cutting inside. Their two best ever players embody that principle, Maradona and Messi were always able to left their opponents dangling with their swift moves and velvet feet, players that had almost no effort in leaving their opponents behind, scoring goals and creating for their teammates.
Such quality, had to result in a legion of young children and teenagers that would try to emulate those idols in the grassed pitch, and Portugal has been enjoying that will to try and be like Messi and Maradona, with players like Di Maria or Gaitan being the biggest examples, both playing for Benfica, and both being quick and agile, great with their left foot, capable of bringing their team forward and helping the Encarnados getting a lot of trophies and titles.
Jorge Jesus, now at Sporting, coached both of them, and it is known is fascination with players from this league and with the ability Di Maria and Gaitan had shown for him, the ability to unlock a game with a take-on or a through ball. And so, after a year in charge, it was time to find his next Argentinian wonder.
Alan Ruiz was the chosen one, and soon the doubts started. Sporting paid almost £6M for a 21-year-old that had never been in Europe and had shown his football for Colon, a team that is mid-table at best. And the beginning was difficult for Ruiz. Not only he arrived a bit overweight, it was the pace of Portuguese football that was hurting young Alan. After a couple of negative performances, he was hidden away. Protected from the spotlight, in order to get the best out of him, get him back in shape and let him shine with less pressure.
It worked wonders. Alan Ruiz is different from all the other 4 players mentioned in the beginning of the article. Alan Ruiz will never be a runner, his build does not allow him. But he has a monstrous left foot, and has an impressive ability to slice open defences with his passing. And he is starting to develop a great partnership with Bas Dost. Whilst the Dutch has been brilliant all season, it’s fair to say that he’s been having even more chances now that Ruiz is at his best, not only because Alan is very dangerous with his shot, but also because of his presence of mind to always find the former Wolfsburg striker. The last match, Friday at VFC showed us their beautiful partnership, in the form of Sporting’s 3rd goal, a great assist from Alan Ruiz from the right side, with the outside of his left foot, an assist that is worth to watch.
The adaptation period lasted perhaps more than it was recommended, but Alan Ruiz is still young at 22, and he now seems completely ready to face the Liga Nos as a whole. And if the duo of Dost-Ruiz starts next season like they are finishing this one, Jorge Jesus knows that there’s a big chance to go after the so wanted Portuguese title