Manuel Veth –
These are tough times for Venezuela. Once considered the most progressive state in South America the oil-rich country is currently undergoing a radical political revolution and economic hardship. Now one of the poorest countries on the planet Venezuela has become a mecca for scouts from all over the world who are in the hunt for a truly undiscovered diamond. The Vancouver Whitecaps—a Major League Soccer side with a well-established scouting network in South America—are no exception and on November 30 the club announced the signing of Venezuelan forward Anthony Blondell.
The 23-year-old Anthony Blondell spent last season with Monagas SC in the Venezuelan Primera División scoring 23 goals in 37 games. With the help of the striker, Monagas SC won the Venezuelan Apertura title and finished the Clausura in the semifinals—unlike most European competitions Venezuela’s Primera División uses the annual league calendar.
Overall it has been a breakout season for the 23-year-old, who was playing for Yaracuyanos and Zamora had scored just ten goals in 72 games. As a result, Blondell was called up the Venezuelan national team in November and is now considered one of many emerging talents from what has previously been considered a dark spot on the South American football map—despite the fact that the Venezuelan top flight outranks MLS in international standings.
Anthony Blondell is a Highly Sought After Player
“Anthony is a highly sought-after player with huge potential,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “He’s an exciting young player with the key attributes you want in any forward player. He’s strong, quick, and powerful. It will be important that we don’t expect too much of him too soon, as he will be one of some additions we are looking at bringing in for next season and will complement our existing group of attacking players.”
As it is the case in the somewhat convoluted world of MLS football transfers Vancouver had to gain the right to negotiate with Blondell from another MLS franchise. In Blondell’s case, the rights were held by Dallas FC, which Vancouver acquired in exchange for $50,000 of General Allocation Money. Also, the Vancouver Whitecaps paid $1.3 million in transfer fees to Monagas. The Venezuelan club also retains 20% of the player’s rights.
“I am honoured to join Whitecaps FC and make Vancouver my new home,” added Blondell. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time playing in my homeland and now is the right time for a new challenge and to make the next step in my career. I look forward to scoring goals and helping Vancouver win trophies.”
But what can Vancouver fans expect from the new signing? One thing is for sure Blondell will bring plenty of power to the forward line. At 6”1” Blondell is an athletic and robust striker with a rocket of a shot. Blondell is, therefore, a bit of an antithesis of 2017 Vancouver Whitecaps leading scorer Fredy Montero. Unlike the highly technical Colombian striker—whose future in Vancouver is still undecided—Blondell is the type of striker that not necessarily looks for technical solutions when it comes to finishing, but instead looks for a straight up quick-fire finish.
Blondell – The Next Salomon Rondon?
Often compared to current West Bromwich Albion, and former Zenit Saint Petersburg striker, Salomon Rondon, Blondell is not only MLS ready but will also bring a new element to Carl Robinson’s play. In fact, a physical forward with a finishing touch may have been precisely what Vancouver was missing last season.
Not unlike the Mexican side Monterrey Vancouver, who finished third in the MLS Western Conference this season, prefer to hand over possession to their opponents and instead like to spring on the counter-attack quickly. Although an effective striker Montero did not always have the stamina to play this style for the full 90 minutes.
That said Blondell’s ability to also play on either wing as well as up front does suggest that Vancouver will still need to sign another forward. This could potentially open the door for Montero, although his current club Tianjin Teda are not interested in another loan deal, which means Vancouver would have to commit to a significant transfer to bring in Montero full time. With Blondell now in the side, however, the Whitecaps have somewhat calmed down worried fans when it comes to new signings, which in turn will give the club time to further scout options or revisit the Montero situation.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.