AT THE heart of Brighton’s destruction of Liverpool last Saturday was Ecuadorian midfielder Moises Caicedo.
The zone of the field where Jurgen Klopp’s team used to steam roll their opponents belonged to the Brighton No 25.
Caicedo interrupted Liverpool’s moves with his tackling and positional skills, kept the side knitted together with his passing – he is a master of finding clever and interesting angles to deliver the ball – and drove the team forward with his lung power.
He looked the complete package – a central midfielder shining brightly in Brighton’s splendid campaign who will make the club a fortune when they – inevitably – sell him on to someone bigger.
Especially as the reported fee that Brighton paid for Moises Caicedo was £5 million.
Now Chelsea are reportedly willing to pay up to £65m to bring Caicedo to Stamford Bridge.
It is astonishing to think that a player of this quality and potential could have been picked up for such a tiny sum – even more remarkable given the fact that he was already a vital member of the Ecuador team flying through World Cup qualification when Brighton picked him up.
They were not just taking a punt on potential. He was already a reality.
Why, then, did he end up at Brighton?
They were put off, though, by the complexity of the deal and the number of agents involved.
Here, Brighton had an advantage.
They already had relations with Caicedo’s club, the extraordinary Independiente del Valle, a tiny club based just outside the Ecuadorian capital of Quito.
Independiente del Valle were taken over a few years ago by businessmen who have taken very seriously the mission of developing players and selling them on.
Jefferson Montero, the winger who had some good days with Swansea, was one of their early successes.
Brighton had taken a gamble on Billy Arce, an attacking midfielder who always looked too lightweight for the Premier League.
That move was not a success. But it put Brighton in pole position to sign Caicedo. For just £5 million.
The fee was so small because the player was coming out of Ecuador.
Had he been from Brazil, then much more money would have changed hands.
Chelsea, for example, paid more than twice that amount to acquire Andrey Santos from Vasco da Gama, a central midfielder who has yet to play a game in Brazil’s first division.
Andrey Santos will be in action later this week in the South American Under-20 Championships, which kick off in Colombia on Thursday.
Usually held every two years, the 2021 version was called off because of the pandemic.
The reigning champions, from the 2019 version are Ecuador, who went on to come third in that year’s World Cup at the level, producing a number of players for the senior World Cup squad in Qatar.
That Ecuador squad in 2019 was full of players from Independiente del Valle – and so is this one four years later.
The club have a remarkable recent record of producing talent, and European scouts are paying plenty of attention.
And now that Caicedo has proved such a success, then the transfer fees are likely to be higher.
The risk factor of coming straight out of Ecuador has been reduced.
If there is a Moises Caicedo on show, interested clubs will surely have to go much higher than £5 million.