Konrad De La Fuente left Barcelona to chase his dream and U.S. forward is just getting started

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De La Fuente has produced a positive and quick effects at Valencia, and the player’s availability rekindled that desire. From there, a cellular phone call among De La Fuente and Marseille supervisor Jorge Sampaoli certain each sides they would profit from the transfer. Sampaoli was won about by De La Fuente’s perspective and felt he had the function ethic required to be successful, when the participant was self-assured that the previous Sevilla FC and Chile manager could transfer his job forward. Specified Barcelona’s struggles with economical difficulties, the value was ideal, too — a relative bargain at $3.5 million.

“It really is not a failure. It truly is the actuality of getting in a single of those significant golf equipment,” reported recent Houston Dynamo FC manager Tab Ramos, who coached De La Fuente with the U.S. U-20 national workforce. “That’s how it operates. You typically are heading to stop up at a further major club. If you happen to be not fantastic plenty of, you clearly don’t make it. He’s made it to a big club now, and I assume that’s amazingly good.”

In some means, De La Fuente’s on-industry and off-discipline personalities look at odds he is smooth-spoken away from the activity, but offers the requisite competitiveness and self esteem once the whistle blows. Ramos recollects a player whose perception was additional of a gradual burn up than a bolt of lightning, a performer who gained him over a minor little bit at a time.

These days, De La Fuente suggests he is refined his technique. He’s all about duels. And profitable them.

“Each and every player I believe has their personal small ‘game in just the match,'” he explained. “Mine is just dealing with the male that is marking me, just heading at him all the time, beating him 1-on-1, generating possibilities and scoring.”

It is really this spot that Sampaoli is hoping to intensify even additional. De La Fuente recollects that in moments when he feels he desires to sluggish the participate in down — a little something Barcelona tends to do at occasions, for strategic functions — Sampaoli implores him to dismiss these instincts and maintain attacking.

“He desires me to drive the ball ahead any time I get the likelihood,” claimed De La Fuente. “Continue to be open when I get the ball, force the other team’s protection again, go 1-on-1. Create scoring likelihood as a great deal as I can. If I am in training and I try to engage in basic, he is like, ‘no, each individual time I want you to go on to go,’ so that it will come all-natural in the games. I’m not halting.”

De La Fuente, still left, was finding restricted alternatives with Barcelona’s very first staff to the level that he asked to stay with the B-facet so he could engage in continually. Alex Caparros/Getty Photos

Two helps in three league game titles level to a speedy acclimatization process, however there are however things to understand in Sampaoli’s idiosyncratic 3-3-1-3 development. It has served that defender Alvaro Gonzalez, who came from LaLiga himself in 2020, has taken De La Fuente beneath his wing, and he is bonded with Arsenal’s on-personal loan midfielder Matteo Guendouzi as effectively.

“So much it really is turned out actually perfectly for me,” De La Fuente explained of the shift. “I am truly pleased.”

His club isn’t really the only venue where by there are changes to be built the identical is real of De La Fuente at the intercontinental stage. He showed flashes of his capability in the U.S.’s – attract with El Salvador, primarily early in the second 50 %. But there ended up also periods when he drifted out of the sport, and he admitted there had been some features of the chaos of CONCACAF that have taken some finding used to.

“The speed of the recreation I assume is slower, but from a competitive standpoint, I feel it truly is various,” De La Fuente reported about Earth Cup qualifiers in CONCACAF. “Right here, it is really like a battle each and every activity. In Europe, it really is more managed. Not to limit our opponents here, but in Europe there is far more technological quality and in the opposing staff as effectively. In CONCACAF, opposing groups are not as technically superior as European teams, so they make up for it in other approaches. From El Salvador, every 50-50, fellas are coming in a minimal little bit with their cleats up, two-footed tackles all the time. All the [loose] balls, they will be going in with their elbows up.”

He added, “All those very little particulars make the big difference.”

Now De La Fuente is again in Marseille, exactly where added working experience in Ligue 1 as perfectly as the Europa League — they pay a visit to Lokomotiv Moscow on Thursday — beckons. So do his dreams.

Supplemental reporting and facts from Julien Laurens and Sam Marsden