Jan Hurtado: Gimnasia y Esgrima’s attacking starlet
Jan Carlos Hurtado Anchico, simply known as Jan Hurtado, looks set to be a member of the next wave of talented youngsters in football. Born in Venezuela, the 19-year-old attacker spent the 2018/19 campaign playing football in Argentina, after joining Club de Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata on a free transfer in August. Making 17 appearances, scoring two goals, and providing one assist, his ability to adapt to new surroundings and remain focused on this new adventure abroad enabled him to be very effective for the Primera División side this season.
Turning heads and attracting interest worldwide, Hurtado – who also made his Venezuelan senior team debut this past March against Argentina – has been a popular man of discussion as of late. With the opening of the transfer window, although being linked to numerous clubs in South America and Europe, he was surprisingly not included in manager Rafael Dudamel’s Copa America roster. This has been largely explained as a reflection of his youth and lack of experience, in addition to the nation’s powerful options in attack (Salomón Rondón, Josef Martinez, and Fernando Aristeguieta). However, it is without a doubt that at this pace, Hurtado will be called upon to prove that he can be a major player of Venezuela’s upcoming run of World Cup qualifiers and eventually become the one leading the lines for the nation.
Born in the western state of Barinas in Venezuela, the 2000 born attacker started his career with Venezuelan giants Deportivo Táchira in 2016. An academy product of the club, Hurtado would make 17 league and cup appearances from the ages of 16 to 17, registering three goals and two assists in this period. However, with a contract expiring, the player needed to find a new team and in August of 2018, he was awarded a move to Argentina with Gimnasia. As aforementioned, Jan was a big part of Gimnasia’s success, which allowed the club to obtain an 18th placed finish – a midtable position for a league consisting of 26 clubs.
Taking a look at his international track record, Hurtado was a firstly a starter in José Hernández Venezuelan U17 side for the U-17 South American Championship in 2017. Nine appearances, he played from the first minute in every match and tallied three goals and two assists; he had two matches against the likes of Paraguay and Peru in which he scored and provided an assist in the same match. Following this, just a few months later, he was selected to play with the Venezuelan U20 side under current manager Dudamel for the U-20 World Cup. He was a peripheral character of this squad who made the final but came up short by a score of 1-0 against England. Then, in January of 2019, he became the main striker for the next wave of players in the U20 side. The U-20 South American Championship, although this squad was unable to make the World Cup this time around, he registered a rememberable moment in a qualifier against Brazil, in which he scored a brace. This marked one of the few moments in history where Venezuela was able to defeat their South American rivals.
Hurtado has since been moved into senior team action appearing twice for La Vinotinto: the first was as a late sub against Argentina (played the final minute), and the second, as a starter against Ecuador (played the first half). Despite certain roadblocks along the way, he is still one of the most anticipated young talents Venezuela has to offer and a chance on a bigger stage may just pave the way to show the world that he can inherit the mantle of Venezuela’s beloved, but aging, strikers.
At six feet tall, Hurtado is able to present himself physically similar to his countryman Rondón, albeit exhibiting better footwork. He likes to venture forward and does so with confidence, dribbling and using his quick acceleration to pass by defenders with ease and run onto the ball. A striker by trade, he plays almost exclusively as a center forward – although he has played as a winger on occasion – as a result of his ability to free himself from defenders and find space in the opposition’s 18-yard box. It is important to note that most of his goals have been from within this area; he gets himself on the right side of a cross to finish the opportunity.
At his age, consistency is a very important trait to possess, but Hurtado displays his quality nearly every time he enters the pitch. However, one downfall is his temper, which has led to a decline in his growth. He has a mixed history with the officials – as displayed in the U-20 South American Championship – where he received two red cards. Both of these incidents saw Hurtado miss key games in their unsuccessful qualifying campaign for the U20 World Cup.
As reported by Brazilian journalist Marce Palacios, Lazio – alongside Milan and Sampdoria from the Italian Serie A – are chasing Jan Hurtado’s signature. After failing to secure the services of Wesley Moraes – a suspected number one target – the Biancocelesti could set their sights on Hurtado to reinforce their attack. In Simone Inzaghi’s preferred 3-5-2, the 19-year-old would be used in a similar position to that of Felipe Caicedo: alongside Immobile in a more attacking position, holding up play to allow Le Aquile to move forward as a team but also to link up for give-and-gos. Although young and inexperienced in Europe, The Laziali would not be surprised to see the footballer brought to Rome: Sporting Director Igli Tare is one who is not afraid to take risks and his next could be the Venezuelan.