Under-20 World Champion for his country and Uruguayan Champion for his club, 2023 was a great year for Luciano Rodríguez.
His performances and achievements have made him one of Uruguay's most interesting players and more European clubs should be taking notice. Nathalia Tavares talks through his impressive year, attributes and the future for the Uruguayan.
Rodriguéz showed impressive form from the start of the season at the U20 Sudamericano and the rest, as they say, is history.
After quickly becoming a key player at Liverpool Fútbol Club, he signed off his first season at the club with nine goals and six assists in 34 appearances, helping his team win the league title.
For Uruguay, he represented the U20s, where he scored nine goals and collected four assists, conquering the world in the process as Uruguay beat Italy 1-0 in the U20 World Cup final.
It was his header which secured the historic victory, making him a national hero.
Luciano Rodríguez: Player Profile
Luciano Rodríguez is a right-footed attacking player who is capable of playing in several roles across the front line. Due to his flexibility, he can operate in multiple systems, even though he's been mostly deployed as a right-winger for both club and country.
Standing at 179cm, Lucho isn’t the most imposing striker in terms of height, but he compensates for that with plenty of confidence when on the pitch.
He doesn't restrict himself to his position, and during the course of the game he can be found in central attacking areas or on the left-hand side.
His pace, movement and technical dribbling quality are standout qualities to his game.
Rodríguez combines these attributes and is most effective when running at defenders, creating goalscoring opportunities by either laying the ball off with short passes or taking the shot on himself.
When in possession and as a high-volume dribbler, the Uruguayan trusts both feet, shifting the ball from one foot to the other, which makes him a difficult player to defend against.
Rodríguez is not afraid to shoot, often comfortable enough taking shots from outside the box, as he has the power and ball striking ability to successfully score from range.
When it comes to the defensive side of his game, it's easy to notice his strong work rate out of possession. He constantly presses the backline and goalkeeper in the hope of forcing a turnover.
What does the future hold?
Rodríguez has spent most of his career so far playing for youth academies in his home city. Having graduated from C.A Progreso in 2020, he broke through the club's first team in the following season before making the move to Liverpool in 2023.
Rodríguez is still in his early stages of his development and still has areas to improve, including his decision making in the final third on occasions, as well as improving the quality of his shooting to become a top player.
At times, he can be selfish and chooses not to pass the ball even when its the best option. Another aspect that has room for improvement in the 20-year-old's game is premature shooting, which has been wasteful in certain situations.
However, the progress he has made during 2023 shows that he is capable of improving and handling playing in important matches.
The striker, who was still playing in the Uruguayan second division for CA Progresso in 2022, went on to quickly become a key player for Liverpool in 2023, who were crowned champions of Uruguay's first division at the end of Rodríguez's debut season at the club.
It is clear that Rodríguez could be the next in a long line of elite Uruguayan forwards and a move abroad could benefit him. Despite the rumours of clubs (including top clubs in Europe) being interested in him, so far, he hasn't been directly linked to many clubs.
Given what the 20-year-old's shown already in Uruguayan football, he should be looking for opportunities to develop in stronger leagues and European clubs should be knocking on his door, especially because of his tactical and role flexibility.
It's hard to compete with strong offers coming from Europe, but a move to the Brazilian or to the Argentinian league, which are leagues not only stronger but are more watched compared to Uruguayan football, would also allow Rodríguez to take a further step in his development and career.
Soon enough we’ll know what the future looks like for the World Cup winner, who is capable of taking the next step.