Two years on from Nuno Mendes' move from Estadio Jose Alvalade to Parc des Princes, Paris Saint-Germain are preparing to add another Sporting CP star to their stable. Manuel Ugarte has enjoyed a significant rise to prominence this season and the 22-year-old is now considered one of the top Europe-based midfielders. Part of Uruguay's 2022 FIFA World Cup squad in Qatar, Ugarte is set to move on after two productive years with Leoes and could be confirmed by the French champions soon after undergoing medical tests on Monday.
But who is this talent and why are some people only starting to hear about him?
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Having just turned 22, the Uruguayan has been in Portugal since late 2020 when he joined Famalicao from CA Fenix where he debuted in 2016. Ugarte spent just a few months with his first Primeira Liga outfit before moving on to join Sporting where he won the Taca da Liga. The man from Montevideo started to crop up on the radars of big European clubs through his performances in UEFA competitions and PSG had to beat off Chelsea to secure his signature.
Similar to Enzo Fernandez albeit over a relatively longer period of time, Ugarte has developed rapidly under Ruben Amorim with his rise further evidence of Portugal's ability to nurture South American talent before jumping to leading continental powers. Sporting, like Benfica and Porto, regularly cash in on their best assets after a couple of years and that is the case here with the biggest difference between Fernandez and Ugarte being that one exploded at the World Cup which drove up demand for his signature.
🚨 Manuel Ugarte to PSG, here we go! Understand the player is ALREADY in Paris set for medical — he’ll sign the contract today. #PSG— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 5, 2023
PSG will pay €60m to Sporting, Chelsea left the race 12h ago and Ugarte will join PSG as Campos closed the negotiation.
Ugarte + Asensio ✅ pic.twitter.com/IvM2Jpr6Wn
The similarities with future PSG teammate Marco Verratti are there and given the rumors that the Italy international is no longer guaranteed to finish his career in the French capital, the two could play together before Ugarte replaces the Azzurri star long-term. A tenacious central midfielder, his biggest attributes are his ball winning, carrying and distribution where, according to fbref.com he ranks in the 99th percentile among midfielders for both tackles and pass completion percentage. Although he didn't score in two seasons for Sporting he has a powerful shot from distance will remind PSG fans distinctly of Thiago Motta -- the sort of player that many hoped Fabian Ruiz might be. Such a signing could be a potential game changer considering the overreliance on Verratti which has become debilitating in recent years. Winning the ball and circulating possessions so that PSG's stars can shine are valuable traits that have been in short supply in Paris in recent seasons.
There is a risk that PSG might have overpaid given the competition with Chelsea for Ugarte's signature, but UEFA Champions League soccer will have factored into the player's considerations when weighing up the two options. Campos is known for his negotiating skills so the French champions are unlikely to be paying the reported $64 million fee in one go. However, the Uruguayan is one of the leading names on the market in his position and the fee will be considered very reasonably if he becomes and immediate cornerstone in a new-look PSG midfield under Christophe Galtier's successor.
PSG need to rebuild their midfield with or without Verratti and Ugarte boasts the sort of profile that this team has been crying out for. Being able to offer UCL soccer immediately will have helped, as will having Jorge Mendes as his agent alongside Marco Asensio who Les Parisiens are also closing on. Campos is under pressure to deliver this summer after last year's business fell apart over the second half of the season. Ugarte profile seems to tick all the boxes necessary and Nuno Mendes' success hints at Lisbon to Paris becoming a prolific route for the club to pursue in the future.