Following Rodrigo Vilca’s summer move to St James’ Park, we reached out to Peruvian football expert Brian Bertie to find out more about the talented No 10 currently starring in our U-23 set up.
Bertie – the founder of ‘The Peruvian Waltz’ (@PeruWaltz) – reveals the 21-year-old’s qualities as a player, potential weaknesses and how he compares to Miguel Almiron; another South American No 10 currently at the club.
Here’s what he had to say, starting with his assessment of Vilca’s strengths and weaknesses:
“He’s a very Peruvian player, technical, quick and tricky with decent dribbling and a good through ball catalyst.
“His weakness is his strength.
“He’s not strong enough to play in the PL, but he can definitely bulk up with better quality facilities in Newcastle as he’s not very big.
“So it’ll probably take a season before he can think about starting.
“I think technically he’s definitely ready for the Premier League, but he needs to bulk up a bit before anything.
I then asked about his recent numbers in the Peruvian top flight and his performance levels for Deportivo Municipal:
“He’s really only broken out this season, he was good before but didn’t get a lot of minutes.
“Vilca managed 3 goals and 2 assists in 1360 minutes so far this season.
“Not a massive number but good enough.
“He also plays for a relatively weak team in Peru.
“I think he’d be a good rotation option to Almiron.
“If something doesn’t work then he can always start when he’s fit enough to play.”
When asking if there was a player he could compare the 21-year-old to, he picked out Peru’s star man from the 2018 World Cup:
“So I’m not that familiar with a lot of Premier League playmakers, but he reminds me of Christian Cueva.
“He was Peru’s no.10 at the 2018 World Cup.”
I then asked about Vilca’s work rate and energy levels off the pitch, asking if he presses well like current no.10 Miguel Almiron:
“The jury is out on him here I reckon, but so far he looks to be more serious than your average Peruvian footballer, with him running more than most.
“Peruvian football is very slow, but he seems to have decent adaptability.
“Almiron was trained in the Paraguayan way and that is to run a lot and press as much as you can.”
After a promising start to life with our U-23’s – he impressed reporters on his debut at St James’ Park, scored the week after against Reading and was part of the side who beat Leeds 4-3 from 0-3 down – he’s certainly one to watch over the coming year!