Manchester United loanee Angelo Henriquez is taking Croatia by storm this season. The Chilean striker has scored 26 goals in all competitions which is as much as Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie combined, and with Javier Hernandez and Radamel Falcao likely not to return come September, there'll be plenty of room for Henriquez.
Henriquez, 21, scored another hat-trick for Dinamo Zagreb againt their rivals Hadjuk Split on Saturday. The youngster also scored a hat-trick last week to secure Zagreb's 10th consecutive league title.
The youngster was bought by United in 2012 and has been loaned out every season since to Wigan, Real Zaragoza and Dinamo Zagreb respectively. He only now seems to be coming of age, however. His goals make him one of the most prolific in Europe and he's making an excellent argument in favour of United keeping him.
However, rumours were rife earlier in the season that Henriquez was to be sold come summer. It remains to be seen whether his good form will earn him the right to fight for a starting role at United next season, but it seems that Manchester United will be the one's doing the convincing.
‘My loan from Manchester United runs until the end of this season, and I know that Dinamo want to purchase my contract, which means that the club are satisfied with me, which makes me happy,’ Henriquez said in March.
‘I want to still stay here.
‘I have gained many friends, and Zagreb is a lovely city, and I feel that the fans are happy with me.
‘Next year we [Zagreb] will again play in European competition and if all goes according to plan I will be a part of it’.
It's believed that Dinamo Zagreb have first refusal on a contract buy-out which is thought to be under a million pounds. But with the the ageing striking personnel at United, it would make a lot of sense for United to go against the player's apparent wishes and keep hold of the young Chilean, who has his whole career ahead of him. United's obsession with big spendind bringing in huge names may cost them another future star in what could end up a Pogba-esque fiasco.
South American players are taking the Premier League by storm at the moment. The influx of latin flair and grit has been received well by fans as well. You only have to look as far as Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, Henriquez's compatriot, to see how popular and how successful these types of players can be. Alexis has 24 goals in all competitions and is one of the favourites for PFA Fan's Player of the Year. Manchester City's Sergio 'Kun' Aguero, who is the League's top scorer with 25 goals (31 in all comps), is another example much closer to home.
Henriquez's style is different to that of Alexis and Aguero, but much more classical in terms of number 9 forward play. He has excellent movement in and around the box and uses his poacher instinct to pop up at in the right place at the right time. Whilst perhaps not being a speedster, his intelligent runs allow him an advantage. But even when he's shoulder to shoulder, he shows great strength and that unbending determination which has become synonymous with South American footballers.
One other aspect that may just have caught the eye of United scouts keeping an eye on their man, is his ability to contribute effective link-up play. His creative edge means he'd have less trouble understanding the more artistic players of the game, such as Angel Di Maria, as a lot of other attackers tend to. In fact, he may even offer a thus far underwhelming Di Maria the energetic and intelligent striker that the Argentinian would thrive alongside. Just as we see Mesut Özil beginning to work around and with Alexis Sanchez to devastating effect, Di Maria and Henriquez could, potentially form a similar understanding.
The ex-Universidad de Chile youth product is a marker for a real change in Premier League clubs' tac with regards to recruiting South American talent. Visa problems used to be a huge deterrent for English sides, but with Financial Fair Play encouraging teams to invest in young players and forcing them to be more wise with how they exploit the loan system - a good way of getting young South American European visas/passports. There are some, of course, like Henriquez you are eligible for exceptional talent visas.
Henriquez has earned a call up for Chile's preliminary Copa America squad and he'll be worth keeping an eye on because it could be that his performances for the national side this summer that push United to do everything they can to keep him (they should). If they do decide to sell, United fans should be hoping there's a buy-back clause in there somewhere.
Here's a glimpse of what's to come from Angleo Henriquez...