The expected summer frenzy of centre-back transfer activity has yet to materialise, with Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool all believed to be in the market for the likes of Gary Cahill, Christopher Samba, Scott Dann and Phil Jagielka. Thus far, Arsenal have rattled off a few ‘derisory’ offers for Cahill and Jagielka, but all four remain at the same clubs they ended the previous season with. Liverpool appear to have identified their centre back of choice and having initially seemed to favour Dann, they have instead opted for Uruguay international Sebastian Coates, who watched the 3-1 win over Bolton Wanderers from the stands.
Unless you invested time in the recent Copa America, it is very likely that you will be unaware of Coates, who has rocketed to prominence since thanks to some stellar performances during Uruguay’s successful campaign in Argentina. Coates’ imminent transfer to Liverpool constitutes a significant upgrade on Sotirios Kyrgiakos, who recently joined Wolfsburg on a free transfer. Tall and elegant, Coates belongs to the new breed of South American centre-back, like Chelsea’s David Luiz, combining the traditional, rugged qualities while also comfortable bringing the ball out of defence or picking a pass from deep. A fee in the region of £7m was required to secure his services from Nacional, double the previous record for a Uruguayan player, and with the crazy prices touted for a Premier League based equivalent, Kenny Dalglish may have finally found value for money in the transfer market.
Coates joined Nacional at 11 and captained every age group before breaking in to the senior side at 18 and started every game he had been available for since then. During this time he starred for Uruguay’s Under-20s, who finished third in the 2009 South American Championships, also featuring at the Under-20 World Cup. Coates missed out on Uruguay’s World Cup squad last summer, despite a call up for their play-off win over Costa Rica, eventually making his senior debut in a friendly against Estonia in the build up to the Copa America.
Injuries to Diego Godin and Mauricio Victorino afforded Coates the opportunity to line up alongside Diego Lugano in the heart of Uruguay’s back line for the Copa America group stages. Left on the bench for the 1-1 draw with Peru, Coates started the 1-1 draw with Chile and the 1-0 win over Mexico, as Uruguay progressed to the quarter-finals and their campaign gathered momentum. Absent for the shock victory over Argentina before returning for the subsequent wins against Peru and Paraguay, Uruguay won a 15th title and Coates the Trophy Claro for the best young player at the tournament.
Coates explained that the chance to link up with fellow Uruguayan Luis Suarez proved to be the deciding factor. “I’d
Sebastian Coates will provide serious competition for Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Jamie Carragher. He even has Scottish ancestry, in what appears to be both a great fit and one of the better transfer deals of the summer.