****AUTHORS NOTE: Since the time of writing this deal has fallen through, however still a good player to read more about! ****
One of the best young Paraguayan players still in the country is set to make a long-awaited move to Italy where he has been of interest for a long time having travelled to the Mediterranean country during his recovery process from a serious injury inflicted on him by Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia during the Paraguay vs Ecuador World Cup Qualifier. Here is a bit more information about the player set to join Marcelo Estigarribia, Edgar Barreto and Ivan Piris in the top division of Italian football.
Name: Richard Ortiz
D.o.B: 22 May 1990
Place of Birth: Villa Ygatimí, Canindeyú
Position: Left Back/Defensive Midfielder
Height: 1.74 metres
Current Club: Olimpia
Previous Clubs: 8 de Diciembre (Villa Ygatimí); Sportivo Iteño
A versatile player who is listed at a midfielder on Olimpia’s website owing to the fact he played most of the 2012 Clausura in the middle yet he made his international debut under Chiqui Arce playing at left back in a World Cup Qualifier against Uruguay. That night he looked shaky for the first 15 minutes before putting in a tremendous performance to neutralise Napoli’s Edison Cavani before becoming an instant hero with the albirroja fans when he poked home a last minute equaliser to save Paraguay from their first ever home defeat to the charrúas.
His career was hampered in the very next home qualifier against Ecuador where he was on the end of a poor challenge from Valencia that ruptured ligaments. Fortunately he hasn’t lost any of that combative style that epitomises his game and is still brutally strong in the tackle yet shows good technical capability that has allowed him to transition seamlessly into midfield.
He was born and raised in very humble surroundings near the border with Brazil, his father a self-subsistent farmer is more comfortable in Guaraní than Spanish which is typical of many Paraguayans from the countryside. Ortiz’s lack of economic resources almost cut short his blossoming football career, the cost of boots and equipment plus the lack of income (youth footballers in Paraguay usually earn way below the minimum wage) meant he returned home to help his parents on the chacra (farm). However, he couldn’t keep away from football and fortunately financial support transpired and he was able to pursue his dream. He was an adult by the time that he was signed by Olimpia (in 2009), from then second division club Sportivo Iteño based in Itá just outside Asunción. Although he started in the reserves he went onto make his first senior appearance that same year. His agent, Diego Serrati, describes him as “straight-forward and down-to-earth” on the personal front before adding “He’s a complete player, multi-functional and puts in consistent performances”.
It will be interesting to see how Genoa decide to use their new signing (assuming the deal goes through), if he does revert to left full-back he will be in direct competition with Benfica’s Lorenzo Melgarejo for that spot in the national team, just the kind of healthy competition that the Paraguayan senior side needs at the moment. Talking about rivalry and he will find himself pitted against compatriot Marcelo Estigarribia who plays for Sampdoria the opponents in the hotly-contest Genovese derby. He is likely to cost the club around 3 million dollars owing to the fact he recently signed an extension with Olimpia, that money is much needed by El Decano who have mounting debts and are behind on wage payments.
By Ralph Hannah