Earlier this week it was revealed that one of the players on trial with the Imps was former Barcelona youngster Juan Luque.
I tracked down a Heybridge Swifts fan yesterday for a brief chat about the player and the impact he had at Scraley Road.
First, a bit of history. Luque started out at San Pedro Lumen and UD Bon Pastor and at the age of 10, he had the football world at his feet. Catalan giants Barcelona wanted to have a look and Guillermo Amor, head of Barca’s youth system, telling the youngster that he was convinced he could be a Barcelona player if he really wanted it.
He spent two years at Barcelona but didn’t make the grade, dropping down to play youth football for Damm, Gramanet, Europa and Cornellà. He featured in the Copa del Rey Juvenil for Cornellà as they beat Real Madrid in the first leg of the second round, with Álvaro Morata, Pablo Sarabia and Dani Carvajal all lining up against him.
He made his first senior appearances for Gramenet B, scoring 8 times in the Primera Catalana. At the end of the season was selected by NIKE as one of the 100 best players of Catalonia.
Since then, he has played for numerous clubs, including CF Montañesa, Vilassar de Mar, FC Santboià, Sabadell B and Heybridge Swifts.
He found his way over to England after former Gramanet team mate Guillem Ramón suggested a trial for a group of Spanish players on English soil. he impressed, earned a deal and set about making a name for himself.
Despite his trial, he recently extended his Heybridge contract to the end of 2018/19, but with his dream of playing in the Football league, the Imps trial was too good of an opportunity to turn down.
I chatted to Steve Gregg, an occasional visitor to Heybridge Swifts, asking him what he thought of Luque.
“Juan is an excellent player who has shown enough quality to step up to the Football League. I was worried he might not adjust well to the English winter, the Isthmian league has some unforgiving places to visit, but he took it all in his stride. He’s definitely got what it takes to add value to Lincoln’s squad.”
Luque has been playing as a support striker for Heybridge, but apparently has qualities to play in a variety of positions.
“He’s been playing behind the striker in what some might call an advanced midfield role, but he has lots of pace and could operate on the flank if need be. There was one game he played on the right of a 4-3-3 I recall, he caused all sorts of problems in the channel.”
“Bear in mind there is a rawness about him, but his desire to get on the ball in unquestionable. He scored some tremendous goals for Swifts, he had a desire to produce the unexpected too. He’s got a lot to offer a Football League club.”
The Swifts would be gutted to let him go, but as Steve explained they would also be very proud.
“We had a lad called Reece Grant who moved to Braintree and there’s a certain pride when you sell a player on at this level. Of course, it would be shame to lose a player but at the same time it is nice that they’ve thrived at your club. I think there would be a fee to pay, but even a nominal £10,000 would be massive for us, but not such a big outlay for Lincoln.”
At 26 Luque is still young enough to advance his career in England and although Danny has a decision to make this week, he could be an ace hidden firmly in the Cowley’s sleeve.
Actually, scratch that, Danny has already played four aces this summer in Akinde, Andrade, O’Connor and Toffolo. I’m not quite sure what Luque could be, but if he does earn a deal it sounds as though we might be acquiring a diamond primed for polishing.
Who better to do that than Danny and Nicky Cowley, right?