In the eyes of many, Nicolas Lodeiro is the finest player Uruguay has produced in recent times. A born playmaker, he has the character, technique, speed of thought and explosive skills that the job requires.
Lodeiro was only 12 when he left his hometown of Paysandu to join Nacional, where he won titles at U-17 and U-20 level before running out for the first time in the Uruguayan Primera Division at the age of 18.
After gaining experience in the Bolso line-up in 2008 and making several appearances in the Copa Libertadores, he showed his real worth the following year. Pulling the strings as Uruguay qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009, he contributed four goals to Nacional’s impressive run to the Libertadores semi-finals.
A national title followed later that year and his subsequent performances in Egypt convinced Oscar Tabarez to draft him into the Celeste squad for the South Africa 2010 play-off against Costa Rica last November, El Maestro handing him starts in both legs.
His displays in those games were all the proof Tabarez needed to include him in his squad for South Africa 2010. And though Lodeiro has featured little for Ajax since his arrival in Amsterdam at the start of 2010, he undoubtedly has the skills to light up Uruguay’s finals campaign.