Kendry Paez may not be a particularly well-known name at the moment, but that looks set to change sooner rather than later.
Playing for Independiente del Valle, the 15-year-old impressed at the Next Generation Trophy last year, catching the eye of a number of clubs.
90min understands that a host of Premier League clubs – up to a dozen – are interested in him, including Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United, with the Blues already believed to have placed a bid.
Here’s everything you need to know about the young Ecuadorian.
Paez was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second-largest city, on 4 May 2007 and soon joined the youth setup at Independiente del Valle, a club located just outside the nation’s capital of Quito.
It quickly became clear that he was quite the talent with him making his debut for Ecuador U-17s in 2022 and going on to score two goals in four appearances.
He really started the catch the eye of those outside of his home nation when he travelled to Salzburg with his club for the Next Generation Trophy that same year. Thanks largely to his efforts, his team reached the final, and he was named the player of the tournament.
The 15-year-old continued to impress after that and was included in the Independiente senior pre-season squad at the start of this year, with the club not allowing him to play in the South American U-20 Championship to facilitate his transition into the first team.
Paez is a creative midfielder that likes to play further forward and make an impact on the game in the final third.
He’s very much a playmaker, with common comparisons that have been made including compatriot Gonzalo Plata, who came through the same youth academy and serves as an inspiration, and Lionel Messi.
The teen prodigy creates a number of chances for teammates but has an eye for goal himself and already has people talking about his long shots – he scored three times at the Next Generation Trophy.
He has mainly played as a number 10 so far in his career but could develop into a winger in the future with his pace and ball control.
Paez’s most notable attributes are his dribbling and his acceleration, with him often running directly at and taking on opponents.
He has also impressed people with his ability to use both feet, with him taking dangerous set-pieces with his left but being comfortable on his right as well.
He combines these physical attributes with footballing intelligence, knowing where best to go to receive the ball and where to play it when he has it.
All of the above make him a player that creates a huge amount of problems for defences and a huge amount of chances for team-mates.
Standing at 1.75m at the time of writing, Paez isn’t the strongest player physically which could make things difficult when he begins to play senior football.
He has also been criticised in the past for not working particularly hard off the ball, sometimes shunning his defensive duties.
Paez has also been known to get frustrated with teammates, complaining when they don’t do what he wants, which has raised some concerns about his attitude.
He often loses possession, but that is somewhat inevitable for such a creative player.