Scouted: The net-busting Valencia youngster who's got Wenger hot under the collar
As a 16-year-old, Alcacer stood out in Valencia’s youth academy with his natural finishing ability, and scored eight goals for Spain in qualifying for the 2010 U17 European Championship. Six goals landed him the Golden Boot as 'Paco' leapt to prominence and into the thoughts of Europe’s elite club managers. Alcacer continued his upward curve at international level by featuring heavily for Spain's U19s in their successful Euro challenge the following year, scoring twice off the bench in extra time against the Czech Republic in the final.
The Torrent-born striker clearly has the right mindset; having featured in only 30% of Getafe's games when farmed out to the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez stadium last season, he returned to the club where he hadn't yet made a La Liga appearance in the summer and is now leading marksman at the Mestalla. His Europa League hat-trick in the 5-0 extra-time win over Basel dragged his side by the bootlaces into the Europa League semis, after Valencia had lost the first leg 3-0.
- Date of birth: August 30, 1993
- Place of birth: Torrent, Spain
- Height: 5ft 8in
- Position: Striker
- Club: Valencia; 35 apps (22 starts), 14 goals
- Former clubs: Getafe, loan; 23 apps (7 starts), 4 goals
- Country: Spain U21; 1 cap, 0 goals
Why you need to know him
What really stands out about Alcacer is that, as well as being technically gifted, there is a selflessness about his game that betrays his goalscoring record. He is always looking to bring onrushing midfielders into play, and such qualities have been instilled in the 20-year-old since his days as captain of Spain’s U17s.
Alcacer’s Pippo Inzaghi-like instincts have naturally brought him to the attentions of a host of European suitors, including Arsenal. Arsene Wenger’s side saw their title push dissolve in March, and with striking options almost certain to be increased this summer at the Emirates, Alcacer would provide an excellent alternative to Olivier Giroud.
Like any good striker worth his salt, Alcacer is a finisher graced with pace and strength. He has a poacher’s instinct that takes him in front of defenders at near posts, and gets him on the end of crosses at the far.
Valencia's goal-getting No.16 is more than just the penalty-box prince, however. He is possessed with the fleetness of foot to carve out opportunities from tight spaces and the ability to guide the ball beyond goalkeepers on the full. At 5ft 8in he's hardly troubling centre-back giants with his head on a regular basis, but, all things relative, defenders should still be wary of the Spaniard’s handy leap.
Alcacer is not known for his dribbling, and despite his quick feet, is more likely to benefit from good service than from crafting opportunities for himself. The striker’s eagerness to score has sometimes come at the detriment of his team; in striving to play off the last defender’s shoulder, Alcacer has averaged fewer passes per game (12.3) than goalkeeper Diego Alves (18.6), which indicates that he often isolates himself up front.
Said Valencia head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi after Alcacer’s inspired hat-trick against Basel: "Despite his youthful years, Paco has already had the experience of feeling the maximum demands that the fans here have always expected. He is playing very well at the moment, and he has to be prepared because the demands will be even greater in the future.”
Did you know?
Currently contracted until 2016, the two-time U19 European Championship winner also has a buyout clause of £15m – a pricetag within the budget of Europe’s elite clubs.
What happens next?
The sharp-witted striker has seen his stock rise since the last transfer window, having scored in Valencia’s 3-2 win at the Camp Nou against Barcelona in addition to his Basel hat-trick. Valencia will hope to hold on to the striker for at least another season before selling him for a larger fee, in the same way they sold David Villa, David Silva and Roberto Soldado to Barcelona, Manchester City and Tottenham respectively.
Shooting 8 • Heading 7 • Passing 5 • Tackling 5 • Pace 8 • Dribbling 8 • Creativity 8 • Work-rate 7