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You’ll have probably heard of Angelo Henriquez before – United have been linked with him for three years now, ever since he and another young player from Chile, Pedro Salgado, came over for a trial. Having agreed a first option deal for Henriquez, United have taken it up and now signed him permanently amidst supposed interest from Man City. This evening Club Universidad de Chile have confirmed Henriquez will join United later this month for £3.5m. He’ll play one final game for the Chilean side.
It was three years ago, nearly to the date, when Angelo Henriquez and Pedro Salgado came to United for a trial from clubs in Chile, Universidad de Chile (La U) and Universidad Católica, respectively. Angelo was 15 and Pedro was nearly 17- they gave an interview at the time about the experience which you can watch here. Interest in Salgado, a centre back, cooled and he still plays in Chile, but in the third division now.
Henriquez though was another story. United were impressed with him and agreed to have him over at Carrington twice a year for informal trials so they could monitor his progress. Eventually this lead to the agreement of a first option on the player – a pre-agreed fee of roughly £3m meant that United could choose any point up until the player’s 20th birthday to make the deal permanent, providing the formalities of a medical and work permit went smoothly.
Shortly before his 18th birthday, earlier this year, Henriquez finally broke into La U’s first team and became their main striker. He’d already been picked out as a player to watch by numerous footballing publications and his goal record at youth international record was excellent (today it stands at 21 goals in 16 games up to U23 level). Henriquez has averaged at a better than a goal every other game for La U and was crucial to their Copa Libertadores run this season.
Henriquez has always admired United and even as a 12 year old he said he admired and looked up to Van Nistelrooy and Rooney. At present it would seem unfair to compare him to players but the info you need to know is that he’s quick, finds space superbly, is an excellent finisher and despite being slight, he’s useful in the air. Henriquez is also clever, he likes to drop deep and get on the ball, bringing other players into the game.
Having watched him, I’d say he needs to get stronger and be a bit sharper on the ball. He’s quite an instinctive player but needs to sometimes realise he won’t always have plenty of time on the ball. To talk about other things he could improve on and provide some thoughts on him, we’ve asked Argentinian based journalist, Joel Richards, a few questions.
United fans have been aware of Angelo Henriquez for a few years after his trials with the club and the first option was made public. We’ve a tendency to over-hype players based on YouTube, so how’s he perceived in South America?
Henriquez is certainly the type of striker that a goals highlights clip doesnt really do justice to what he has to offer, as he’s a very rounded player and offers much more than just goals. In South America he’s definitely held in high regard, not just because of his obvious ability but because he is part of a Universidad de Chile side that is doing very well, playing some electric football and has captured attention across the continent. That said, by not playing in Brazil or Argentina there is inevitably less hype.
How has he done since breaking into La U’s first team early this year?
He’s done extremely well – both in his overall performances and in the more tangible number of goals he has scored. He is still very young and is of course at La U, which is one of the best club sides on the continent right now, so there is the pressure to succeed – not to mention the pressure of having had a pre-agreement with United of course. La U has an excellent youth system set up and the club is structured in a way that the youth team players are well-prepared by the time they reach the first team, and Henriquez has undoubtedly benefitted from that.
What would you suggest are his best assets and which areas should he be looking to improve on?
Without a doubt his best asset is his versatility – he is comfortable with the ball at both feet and regularly drops deep to collect the ball, or drifts wide. His movement is excellent, he is also strong in the air and finishes very well. Naturally, the pace and physicality of the Premier League means that it is a step up, but of course in Chicharito there’s the perfect example to follow of a striker settling in quickly.
Whilst his signing is for a long-term impact rather than the immediate future, do you think he’ll suit both United and the Premier League?
As you say he is still very young so it will be interesting to see how much he features in the next couple of years. But it’s clear that United have found a real talent in Henriquez, the fact other English clubs were trying to muscle in says a lot. His versatility and personality should stand him in good stead.
Our thanks to Joel for his time – be sure to follow him on Twitter.
As Joel mentioned, Man City have been linked to Angelo after he impressed over in Northern Ireland at the Milk Cup this summer. Henriquez was representing Chile in the youth international section and scored some fabulous goals. United ideally may have waited a while longer to sign him but the interest of other clubs has no doubt forced their hand. The immediate plan for Angelo is unclear but at 18 there’s no rush. He’ll surely bide his time in the U21s as he settles and then maybe go out on loan. After deals for Powell, Kagawa and Van Persie, United have made yet another exciting move in the transfer market and added to the plethora of talented attacking players at the club.