Carlos Bacca: Club Brugge’s diamond
Carlos Bacca is one of the few players from Club Brugge who has lived up to his billing this season. The Colombian, who finished top scorer in his own country for Atletico Junior, moved to Belgium in January 2012. From the very start press and fans expected a lot from Bacca. He needed some time to adapt to the European football style and the habits we have here in Europe. He also had to deal with some struggles in the club but he kept on working every single day. After a difficult start, Club legend Kenneth Brylle, who was coaching the strikers, defended Bacca in the press:
“Another part of the world, another footballing culture. You can’t underestimate that. However, he must not hide behind the language barrier. He isn’t yet up to the mark physically. He’ll get there though but it will take longer than first thought. He is ambitious, has an eye for goal and is very quick. I want to focus completely on him because he must succeed here. He is not a flop,” he told the Gazet van Antwerpen just over a year ago now.
Not only did Bacca have to adjust but the officials did as well. The first weeks of Bacca were quite amazing if you look at how many times the referees blew for offside when he was onside. Even analysts and commentators needed to rewind and look back at it. Carlos Bacca is so fast and always flirts with offside but he really knows what he is doing. Club Brugge paid quite a big sum for the striker, around €2.5 million, but they did a very good job.
The biggest problem for Club Brugge, and a lot of other teams, is the often negative influence exerted on a player by his entourage. They want him to go to a bigger club or league so they can cash some money and this summer is as good a time as any for them to force a deal through. Carlos Bacca already scored 23 times in the Jupiler Pro League and is Belgium’s leading goalscorer. It is clear that Club Brugge needs to do everything to keep Bacca in Brugge. It will be very tough to keep the attacker happy when agents are trying to manipulate him. Money talks and it talks all languages.
Carlos Bacca is also a Colombian international and he can learn everything from the man who is probably the best out-and-out striker in the world at this moment, Radamel Falcao. Colombia has a big chance of qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil. Bacca is already a hero in his country and they really expect him to play once for a big club in Europe like his mate Falcao.
Although Bacca has a lot of potential, there are areas where he can improve. He needs to be more clinical in one-on-one situations. In the Jupiler Pro League he gets away with these things but he need to improve just that little bit to have a chance at a big club. Furthermore, he has a tendency to miss easier chances than those he scores – the recent game against Anderlecht was evidence of that. For defenders Bacca is a fiendishly difficult player to defend because he has a big arsenal of moves. One thing you know as a defender is that everything will go very fast, he almost never shift down gears. He also has a precise shot with which he can stun a keeper from outside the box.
Club owner Bart Verhaeghe and sporting director Arnar Gretarsson should be very happy with their front line of Lestienne, Bacca and Refaelov, which is supplemented by Eidur Gudjohnsen. The president of Club Brugge only needs to invest in his midfield and defence. If they could achieve to buy players of the same level like they have in attack, they really have a big chance of winning a title again (though you might well argue they already should given the outlay on players in recent times). The question is whether Bacca will stay at Club Brugge after this season? Will his agents push him to make that move to go to a bigger club? We’ve seen the occasional tantrum from Bacca and the petulant reaction to being substituted but you would think he is integral to any title push next season.
The fans of Club Brugge are already waiting for almost 8 years to win a league title. Quite amazing for a football club like Club Brugge. Every year, and certainly this season, they invest a lot of money in players to achieve the ultimate in Belgium: winning the league. So it better does not take another 5 years without winning a title or buying high quality players like Carlos Bacca could become impossible. Some neutrals may resent that Verhaeghe has invested so much and enjoy Club’s continued failure to win the league but others enjoy marvelling at players of Bacca’s calibre and want to see more of the same in future seasons under the deeply ambitious Verhaeghe.
Although Bacca already plays to a high standard he certainly needs to stay at least another year in Brugge (that we said it about Benteke does not and will not prevent us from making a similar assessment when deemed appropriate). Here in Belgium we sometimes want our players to become big stars in only two years. It just takes much longer then that. If Bacca is able to repeat his fantastic form next season then that would be the appropriate time to start talking about a transfer. I am sure that Bacca still can improve in the Jupiler Pro League before making the big step. Whether his entourage will allow him is a different story.