Paul Wilkes introduces Sevilla's Colombian goal-getter who's apparently piqued Liverpool's interest...
- Date of birth: September 8, 1986
- Place of birth: Puerto Colombia, Colombia
- Height: 5ft 11in
- Position: Striker
- Club: Sevilla (108 apps, 49 goals)
- Former club(s): Atletico Junior, Barranquilla, Minerven, Club Brugge
- International: Colombia (20 caps, 7 goals)
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"I had a lot of confidence in my own abilities," explains Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca. That assuredness was vital – otherwise the Colombian might never have made it to the top. Bacca hadn't played a single minute of top-flight football by the time he turned 23, but he's making up for lost time.
His journey began with Atletico Junior, although he was loaned out to fellow Colombian side Barranquilla and Venezuelan club Minerven, where his frequency of scoring increased.
On his return to his parent club, he cemented a regular first-team place and continued his goalscoring prowess. "I felt that my chance would come and that I had what it took to seize it. And when I got my opportunity with Junior it filled me with even more belief," he admitted. It was there that he gained his first trophy and illustrated the remarkable drive to repeat his achievements a year later, as he won back-to-back Categoria Primera A titles and top scorer awards. At 25 years old, he made the long overdue switch to Europe and joined Belgium side Club Brugge.
Originally he struggled to earn a starting position and it took a change of manager for Bacca to truly find his way. His 16 goals in the first half of the campaign prompted enquires from the more established teams on the continent.
The move to Spain two years ago has seen the forward continue his ascent and showcase his skills at a greater level. Bacca has helped the Andalusians to repeated fifth-placed finishes in La Liga and two Europa League prizes, bagging a brace in the 2015 final against Dnipro. "This is something unique," declared Bacca after the victory in Warsaw. "I want to enjoy it. I was pleased to help the side with two goals."
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman's attacking options mean the Sevilla striker isn't a guaranteed starter for his national side. His case hasn't been helped at the Copa America, after a coming-together with Neymar led to a two-match ban and Pekerman's preference for Teofilo Gutierrez to partner Radamel Falcao.
Why you need to know him
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The striker is a natural finisher and, unlike many South American forwards, he hasn't been overplayed due to his late development. This has enabled him to reach his current level, while ensuring he still has the hunger for future success. Bacca has yet to play in the Champions League, although 11 goals in Europa League competition suggests he's more than capable of competing in the continent's elite tournament.
There are numerous huge clubs hoping to close in on his signature and take advantage of a poacher in his prime. Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United are all looking to further their goal output and the proven international is an ideal candidate.
Bacca has developed into much more than just a scoring machine, and under the guidance of Unai Emery has added further dimensions to his all-round game. "Emery is a very demanding coach who never lets you relax," said Bacca. "He is always trying to get the best out of you and that's been reflected in my performances. There are qualities I've now added to my game, like defending more and helping the team. At previous clubs my role was more about scoring but at Sevilla I also have defensive duties."
Bacca's main strength is simply being in the right place at the right time to finish chances. He has the pace to latch onto through-passes and beat opponents when he has the ball at his feet. His solid first touch allows him to come to life in the penalty area, and his aerial capability is more than just heading home crosses, although this does make him an indirect threat from set-pieces. He isn't easy to push off the ball, so won't be bullied by larger defenders.
As Bacca attempts to sprint behind defensive lines, he regularly gets caught offside. For someone so quick it's unnecessary and frustrating for his colleagues, and if he could temper his eagerness to pounce then he would surely add more to his impressive goal tally. Only goalkeepers Sergio Rico and Beto recorded a lower pass-completion rate for Sevilla last season than Bacca, and despite his best efforts to be the one on the end of passes he could still improve his link-up play, notwithstanding nine assists in all competitions.
"Bacca usually scores and today he had the opportunity to get two," said Sevilla team-mate Daniel Carrico after this year's Europa League final. "We are very happy for him, today was his turn to be the protagonist. But when we win, we all win, from the kit man to the chairman."
Did you know?
The attacker initially had to combine his footballing career with that of a ticket clerk on a bus, as his family were so poor they needed the extra money. The route linked his hometown to the city of Barranquilla. "When I got my first pay cheque as a professional player, I organised a meal with my whole family to share my joy with the people who had supported and helped me along the way," recalls Bacca.
- Shooting 9
- Heading 8
- Passing 5
- Tackling 4
- Pace 8
- Dribbling 7
- Creativity 7
- Work-rate 8
What happens next?
"Carlos Bacca at the end of the season told Sevilla he would like a way out," Spanish football expert Guillem Balague informed Sky Sports. Sevilla would like him to stay, but as they already know his stance and because there's considerable interest from the Premier League, he can purchased for a reasonable fee.
He has three years left to run on his current contract, which contains a release clause of just over £21 million. Milan have made contact, but Bacca appears to favour England and a side participating in the Champions League next term.