HomeFootball NewsGlut Of Young International Debuts Continues

Glut Of Young International Debuts Continues

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16-year-old Kendry Paez made his international debut last night for Ecuador in their 2-1 victory over Uruguay in Quito in a CONMEBOL qualification match for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Paez, who was born in May 2007, has managed just 17 senior club appearances across all competitions in his career so far, making his debut for Ecuadorian Serie A side Independiente del Valle earlier this year.

In June of this year, Chelsea confirmed that Paez, who is now the youngest player to ever play for the Ecuadorian national football team, would join the club in the summer of 2025 when he has turned 18, a year before the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

The Guayaquil-born youngster is seen as an excellent dribbler of the ball and has been noted to have taken inspiration from his compatriot Gonzalo Plata, who joined Al Sadd from Real Valladolid this summer, as well as Argentine Lionel Messi.

Despite that, he has been deployed in central midfield in his extremely short career so far and gained plaudits for his performance against a Uruguayan midfield that consisted of Manuel Ugarte and Fede Valverde, coached by Marcelo Bielsa.

Ecuador began qualification for the next global event with a three-point deduction after the controversy surrounding Byron Castillo ahead of the previous FIFA World Cup in Qatar. They were edged out by a goal to nil against world champions Argentina, who required a Lionel Messi free kick to clinch three points, before then defeating Uruguay to move onto zero points from two games.

During this international break there has been a theme of very young players making their debuts. Barcelona’s 16 year-old prodigy Lamine Yamal came on for Spain and scored in their 7-1 demolition of Georgia at the weekend, whilst African champions Senegal handed a debut to Amara Diouf, a winger who turned 15 in June. He has come through the Generation Foot production line which also helped nurture players such as Sadio Mane. He will sign for Ligue 1 side Metz next June when he turns 16

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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