The definition of wasted talent: Víctor Vázquez
Born in Barcelona, Catalonia, Vázquez joined the youth system of FC Barcelona at the age of 11. At La Masia, he was part of the iconic youth team of 1987, as he played alongside future starts, first-team players, Cesc Fàbregas, Lionel Messi, and Gerard Piqué. Despite all-conquering collecting, the youngster by some was rated higher than the little Argentinean genius. “I remember Messi and Víctor were by far the best players in our team,” Fabregas said. “Sometimes they would go in for head-to-head duels. If one scored four in one game, the other would hit five.” What possibly happened to the boy who once was tilted to be more victorious than arguably the greatest footballer in history. This is the tragic story of Víctor Vázquez, the definition of wasted talent.
Unlike Messi, as Vázquez was promoted to the professional team he was unable to keep up with past performances and ended up making only three senior appearances for Barcelona's first team, one in La Liga and the other two in the Champions League. In February 2009, a severe knee injury effectively prevented the young talent from achieving success in the Spanish club. After returning from injury in 2010, Vázquez managed to score his first and only goal for Barcelona, but the injury had already cast its spell on the Spaniard. The manager at the time, Pep Guardiola, was disappointed with Vázquez's under-performance and released the player to go elsewhere the following year.
Vázquez really found his footing in the professional game in Belgium. During his four years in the country's capital, the La Masia graduate produced some outstanding football while remaining injury-free. Vázquez played 173 games for Club Brugge, scoring 25 goals, assisting a further 50, and winning two trophies. He was even named the Belgian Footballer of the Year for his efforts in the 2014/15 season, a stellar achievement.
After leaving Club Brugge in 2015, Vázquez joined Mexican outfit Cruz Azul, though he didn't exactly enjoy his time there. After 23 appearances for the Mexican club, he only scored one goal and contributed a single assist, a far cry from his output in the Belgian top-flight.
In February 2017, Vázquez joined Toronto FC and experienced somewhat of a renaissance. Sixty-five games across all competitions for the club yielded a remarkable 18 goals and 17 assists. Vázquez's hard work and excellent season paid off as they managed to win the MLS Cup, and he has even been named MLS Best XI for that year.
Vázquez joined Al-Arabi SC in the Qatar Stars League after a successful two-year stint in Canada, hampered slightly by injuries. He only appeared in seven games for the club before joining fellow Qatari club Umm Salal at the end of the 2018/19 campaign.
Vazquez only managed nine appearances there and was soon off on his travels once again, returning to the Belgian top-flight in August 2020 with K.A.S. European. The 35-year-old spent just two months back in Belgium before asking to be released for personal reasons and in March 2021, he found yet another club in the form of LA Galaxy – which is his current team. Vázquez has made 28 appearances for the MLS team, scoring three goals and assisting on five occasions.
Football can be a brutal sport, as beautiful as it is. When someone engages in a sport, they acknowledge the possibility of injury. They never expect it to happen, though. No matter how much potential a player has, an early injury scare can easily derail their entire career. This was a major drawback for the player who was strikingly quick on his feet, consequently Víctor Vázquez until this day has not filled his full potential, thus concluding the story of the boy who once was titled to be greater than Messi though became the definition of wasted talent.
Ryan, Danny. “The Story of Victor Vazquez, the Barcelona U15 Star Who Was Said to Be Better than Messi.” GiveMeSport, 26 Jan. 2022, www.givemesport.com/1827743-barcelona-what-happened-to-victor-vazquez-who-was-said-to-be-better-than-lionel-messi.
“Big Read: Why Victor Vazquez Is like No Player in Toronto FC History.” Sportsnet.ca, www.sportsnet.ca/soccer/big-read-victor-vazquez-like-no-player-toronto-fc-history/.
Mlssoccer. “Víctor Vázquez.” Mlssoccer, www.mlssoccer.com/players/victor-vazquez/.
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