Ignacio Camacho: meet the Liverpool-scouted former Spain youth skipper

The talented midfielder is one to keep an eye on, says Paul Wilkes...

The 60-second story

FACT FILE

  • Date of birth: May 4, 1990
  • Place of birth: Zaragoza, Spain
  • Height: 6ft 0in
  • Position: Defensive midfielder
  • Current club: Malaga (128 apps, 10 goals)
  • Former club(s): Atletico Madrid (2005-11)
  • International: Spain (1 cap)

Born in Zaragoza, Ignacio Camacho played for the youth teams of his hometown club before moving to the Spanish capital aged 15.

It took just two-and-a-half years for the youngster to make his first-team debut for Atletico Madrid, when he replaced Simao Sabrosa in the Copa del Rey against Granada. “I have always given all I have for the club and although this is an important step for me. I would rather keep calm because I still have a lot to prove,” said the then-17-year-old.

This initial taste of club football came six months after Camacho captained Spain’s squad to victory over England in the 2007 U17 European Championship in Belgium. Few from that team continued their ascent, with David de Gea, Bojan Krkic and Real Madrid defender Nacho the only other players of note to make an impact at the top level.

Despite an impressive debut campaign, Camacho left Atletico for Malaga after failing to gain significant game time amid injury problems. In his final full season in Madrid he was managed by now-Watford coach Quique Sanchez Flores, who has recently been linked with a summer move.

Ignacio Camacho, Atletico Madrid

Camacho won the 2010 Europa League with Atleti

Malaga’s financial clout in the hands of Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani meant that competition for places in midfield increased in the summer of 2011, as Jeremy Toulalan, Santi Cazorla, Isco, Diego Buonanotte and Recio all arrived. However, in 2012/13 his importance increased under Manuel Pellegrini as the Andalusian club reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League in their first ever season in the competition.

Why you need to know him

Camacho and his agent were seen at Liverpool’s Melwood training ground earlier this month

Simply, Liverpool are strongly liked with a summer move, with scouts reportedly having watched him as recently as last weekend.

When Malaga owner Al Thani decided to pull in the purse strings, the squad at La Rosaleda suffered a number of key departures, including Pellegrini’s exit to Manchester City. They were also banned from Europe for the following season thanks to their debts, but Camacho continued in the heart of the midfield with Bernd Schuster at the helm.

Camacho made 10 appearances in his maiden Champions League season and was particularly impressive in the 1-0 home win over Milan in the group stage, when he showed that in the right conditions he can excel.

Camacho and his agent were seen at Liverpool’s Melwood training ground earlier this month according to Read Liverpool, but he has previously attracted the attentions of several clubs across Europe.

“It’s always good when teams are looking at you because it means you are doing things right, both individually and collectively,” the 25-year-old admitted last year when linked with a possible move to Tottenham. “I have a contract here but if anyone wants to come in for me, then they will have to negotiate.”

Strengths

Camacho is tactically astute and fully aware when he should either press or stay in position

Camacho has bundles of energy and works tirelessly in Javi Gracia's 4-4-2 system. He is tactically astute and fully aware of when he should either press or stay in position, which means he's equally at home making tackles in front of the back four or by using his tremendous anticipation further up the pitch to intercept the ball. 

He's also very strong in aerial duals, which makes him both dangerous from attacking set-pieces and a useful commodity when defending corners and free-kicks.

Ignacio Camacho, Malaga

Camacho has played in the last 10 league games after missing the start of the season

His physicality allows him to take-on opponents with sheer power rather than finesse, as he isn’t easily pushed off the ball. This combative style means he draws a number of fouls from his opposition.

Weaknesses

The box-to-box midfielder certainly can’t be accused of having a soft nature

Camacho's passing could be improved, especially when attempting to create opportunities for the flair players. His 70% pass-completion rate this term illustrates the problem, although in previous seasons it has been around the 80% mark.

The box-to-box midfielder does occasionally show a lack of discipline: he mistimes the odd challenge and certainly can’t be accused of having a soft nature. He picked up four consecutive yellow cards in an 18-day period this winter, and will miss the weekend’s game with Real Sociedad after adding another caution for raking his boot down the back of Marcelo’s leg against Real Madrid.

Ignacio Camacho, Malaga

Camacho in the wars

They said...

“This year Camacho is having continuity and he is one of the revelations of this Malaga side. He has assumed great responsibility,” said former team-mate and midfield partner Toulalan in 2012, when the team still contained the experience of Joaquin, Martin Demichelis and Javier Saviola.

“Camacho has been playing for the lower categories, was champion with the Under-21s not so long ago and reflects very well what this Malaga team are doing,” said Spain coach Vicente del Bosque recently.

Did you know...

When Lionel Messi claimed his second Ballon d’Or in 2010, the majority of opposition came from World Cup winners Xavi and Andres Iniesta, but fellow Spanish midfielder Camacho felt his Atleti team-mate should have been rewarded with the honour. “It would be unfair to say that Diego Forlan doesn't deserve the Ballon d’Or, and we would be proud if he got it,” he proclaimed shortly before the ceremony.

What happens next?

“We all know Malaga’s situation, which isn’t too bad, but they could be forced to sell for a reasonable price,” Camacho confessed.

The midfielder is clearly open to a Premier League move, while his energy and intensity makes him a good fit for Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs or Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. However, the sighting on Merseyside combined with the emergences of Tom Carroll and Dele Alli at White Hart Lane this season suggest that the Reds would be the most plausible destination.

Camacho had hip surgery last March, which kept him out for seven months, so Klopp and his transfer committee will need proof that a reccurrence is unlikely. He has three years left on his contract but could be available for under £10 million from the cash-strapped Spaniards if reports are to believed.

More features every day on FFT.com • Football’s most sought-after stars scouted