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Óscar Zambrano: The Ecuadorian looking to follow in Caicedo’s footsteps

LDU Quito’s 19-year-old Óscar Zambrano has been linked with potential moves to Premier League clubs Bournemouth, Luton Town and Manchester United this January transfer window.

After an impressive Under 20 World Cup, Nathan Joyes provides his thoughts on the midfielder and why he can rise to the challenge.

Óscar Zambrano Player Profile

With just 46 appearances to his name for LDU Quito, who were recently crowned as Ecuadorian champions, Zambrano has shown early signs why clubs are carefully watching him.

It was during the Under 20 World Cup where the 19-year-old attracted plenty of suitors. Although Ecuador were knocked out in the round of 16, Zambrano’s performances across the four matches showed a player with real maturity - and someone who simply flourished against players back in his own age category.


It’s Zambrano’s line breaking passes which have truly caught the eye. Combined with his calmness and vision, the midfielder looks to play forward thinking, accurate passes to teammates in attacking positions.

Time and time again during the World Cup he wouldn’t take more than two or three touches before looking to progress the ball up the pitch if the pass was on.

The Ecuadorian isn’t one to take needless touches or try anything too clever, preferring to release wingers or attackers in behind with his low passes. Rarely will he look to loft balls over the top, preferring to play passes inside full-backs.

His vision and intelligence almost saw him score what would have been the goal of the tournament during the World Cup, where he tried his luck from inside his own half against Slovakia. He’s not known for his goalscoring, nor is it his responsibility, but it’s worth flagging nevertheless.

Off the ball, Zambrano’s senses when opponents are weak in possession, and his high-press puts them under immediate pressure.

Rarely going to ground, he’s often looking to win the ball back in order to play one of his trademark passes in order to kickstart a counter attack in the final third.

His positioning is way above where it should be for a player of his age. Similar to his high-pressing, the 19-year-old sets himself up to either anticipate where the ball is going or alternatively looks to win the ball back in a way which allows him to play a forward thinking pass.

All of these elements combined have shown signs Zambrano could become a world class operator in the middle of the pitch under the right manager.


At this stage of his development, there aren’t many - if any - concerning areas. However, although he’s made almost 50 appearances for LDU Quito, the vast majority have come off the bench. 

Despite his maturity, it’s still early days as he continues to learn his trade and a new environment, such as the Premier League, will demand much more than what he’s been used to.

Yet the way in which he progresses the ball quickly shows he is likely to adapt to the quicker pace of European football.

It’s also worth pointing out he’s already extremely highly rated in Ecuador, with comparisons drawn with Moises Caicedo. Many are convinced Zambrano may have more potential than the Chelsea midfielder, if he takes the right steps.

The future

Bournemouth, Luton Town and Manchester United have shown an interest in the Ecuadorian midfielder - although the more serious links appear to be coming from the first two clubs.

The rumoured fee of around £5.5m could prove to be shrewd business, with the 19-year-old showcasing his talent in the Under 20 World Cup.

If Zambrano’s progression continues, a move to a lower ranked Premier League side will allow him to blossom, before an inevitable bid comes in from a top European club. 

Bournemouth have recruited well in recent times, and as they are an established Premier League team, and with little fear of relegation, the Cherries look to be the better option for him over recently promoted Luton Town.

Manchester United are looking for a long-term replacement for Casemiro, and Zambrano is a replacement Alice Abrahams spoke about in her feature within Issue III, but nothing concrete has yet to come to light.


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