By Manuel Veth –
José Enrique Angulo already wrote history this season when his club Independiente del Valle reached the final of the Copa Libertadores against the Colombian club Atlético Nacional from Medellín.
The small club from Ecuador, which was only promoted to the Ecuadorian Serie A in 2010 (read their full story here), wrote Copa Libertadores history, and became a South American sensation when they eliminated the Argentinian giant Boca Juniors in the semi-final 5-3 on aggregate.
Atlético Nacional was a Bridge to Far for Independiente
Unfortunately for Independiente, Atlético Nacional proved to be a bridge too far in the final, as the Colombians managed a 1:1 draw in Ecuador, and then defeated Independiente at home in Medellín 1:0.
Yet Independiente’s run to the final did not go unnoticed with European scouts who constantly scour the Americas for new recruits. Independiente’s striker José Angulo, who—together with his striking partner Junior Sornoza—was the club’s top scorer in the Libertadores with six goals, stood out in particular.
The 184cm tall striker, who was born in the Canton of San Lorenzo, was convincing in the Serie A Segunda Etapa where he scored 14 goals in 16 matches—as is common in South America the league in Ecuador is split into two separate seasons, with the two finalists of each Etapa playing each other to determine the national champion.
José Angulo Goal Scoring Record was Impressive
As a result of his goal scoring record Angulo has now been purchased for €4.5 million by the Spanish La Liga team Granada CF. Granada recently sold the Colombian striker Jhon Córdoba to the Bundesliga side 1. FSV Mainz 05 for €5.5 million.
Córdoba already spent the 2015-16 season on loan at Mainz, and the Colombian’s fine performances in Germany have meant that Mainz had no qualms about exercising the option to make Córdoba’s move to Germany permanent.
Granada CF used to be owned by Italian business tycoon Giampaolo Pozzo, who owns several other clubs in Europe, including Udinese Calcio in Italy and Watford FC (where his son is listed as the official owner).
Pozzo’s ownership strategy includes unearthing talented players from throughout South America in order to sell them at a profit. Pozzo has since sold Granada to the Chinese businessman Jiang Lizhang. Yet it appears that Granada will continue their strategy to unearth young talented strikers in South America, and Angulo perfectly fits into this strategy, as experts believe that the 21-year-old Ecuadorian has the potential to grow into a top class striker, who can one day play at a top European club.
José Angulo has an Impressive Array of Goal Scoring Tools
Indeed Angulo’s striker rate alone in Ecuador and the Libertadores are impressive, but it is also the way Angulo scores his goals. Not unlike the above-mentioned Cordoba, Angulo’s physical presence in the penalty box makes him an excellent target player.
But the Ecuadorian also has excellent speed, which makes it easy for him to overrun high defensive lines—there are countless examples where defenders try to hold the striker back by pulling his shirt, but Angulo often muscles his way past defenders to go in for goal.
Furthermore, despite his physical presence Angulo also possesses fine technique, which makes it possible for him to find goal scoring chances in tight positions.
Hence, if Córdoba was called the Colombian Drogba, it would not be out of place to call Angulo the Ecuadorian Drogba. With all those attributes Angulo would be the perfect fit for a club in the more physical competition such as the German Bundesliga or the English Premier League.
Through Jiang Lizhang connection to Pozzo it would certainly be possible that Angulo could make his way to Watford, after he fulfils the complicated work permit regulations that exist in English football.
José Angulo’s Transfer is Good for Independiente and Ecuador
But no matter what the future holds for Independiente del Valle, the Angulo deal proves to be another milestone towards the establishment the club as a serious contender in South America. The small Ecuadorian club donated all its profits from the Copa Libertadores run to the victims of the 2016 Ecuador earthquake.
Hence, while Independiente had no real financial gain from the tournament, the club will now be able to make a major profit from selling several players, which will certainly reinvested to improve the infrastructure of the club. Angulo’s transfer is another significant step in the growth of football in the Andean nation.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist, and holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London. His thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States”, and will be available 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 @homosovieticus.