The Challenges of Jan Hurtado Come to Boca

The short career of Jan Hurtado looks exactly like a Latin soap opera, and it seems like it's been going on for years. Hurtado is only 19 years old who already managed to play in a World Cup final, and he is considered as one of the greatest talents in Venezuelan football. We previously mentioned the huge progress that Venezuela made in the last couple of years with hot prospects like Wuilker Fariñez. Now another one of these youngsters is making a step forward and becomes the first Venezuelan player who signed for Boca Juniors.

Born in El Canton in 2000, Hurtado started to play football at the age of 12 when he joined Deportivo Tachira. After four years of showing his potential, he made his debut in the domestic cup. In 2017, Hurtado was one of the players in the U-17 South American championship, which led Rafael Dudamel, the U-20 national team coach back then, to invite him to the squad for the U-20 World Cup. Hurtado gained experience with older teammates, as he scored one goal in Venezuela's 7-0 win over Vanuatu. The most significant moment was during the final, when he was subbed in during the second half, but couldn't prevent Venezuela from losing 1-0 to England.

When he returned to Venezuela, his story didn't continue well. Since the country is facing an ongoing economic crisis, his father, Nelson, wanted him to leave Venezuela despite being a minor. In order to do that, Nelson Hurtado decided to reject a contract proposal made by Tachira and later even terminated the current contract.

The club filed a claim against Nelson to the Honor Council of the Venezuelan Federation and won. Hurtado was found guilty, and he was banned from playing for six months. "Jan was never a problem. It was his father who rejected all our offers. Despite the ban, we kept paying him his salary," says in the club. Jan's version was different. He claimed that the club didn't do so after the suspension. "Before the suspension, they paid me 40 dollars per month, and since the suspension, I received only one dollar per month", the striker said.

When the suspension was over in September 2018, Hurtado was supposed to become a free agent. He chose to sign with the Argentine side, Gimnasia de La Plata, but once again Tachira filed a claim to the FA. According to the club, he still has a valid contract until the end of the year. This time the FA rejected their claims and Hurtado was released.

Hurtado's debut season was decent. He scored five goals in 27 matches but especially showed how much potential he has. He scored the winning goal against Boca Juniors in the Copa Argentina. That was the moment when Boca Juniors marked him as their next prospect, while Hurtado himself was compared to the former legendary striker, Faustino Asprilla. At the beginning of July 2019, Gimnasia and Boca had an agreement that Hurtado will be transferred for $5m, but a few days later Gimnasia announced that they decided to sell him to the Italian side, Genoa, who offered $9m. The story wasn't simple as well since Hurtado didn't want to move to Genoa and threatened to activate his $2m buyout clause by himself. In the end, it has been decided that Hurtado will join the Argentine side.

Hurtado signed a four-year contract deal, and he will be the first-ever Venezuelan player to play for the club. According to the plans, he is supposed to replace Dario Benedetto, who will leave to Mexico.

For a 19-year-old player, replacing Benedetto might be a difficult challenge, but for Hurtado it is possible. Hurtado is marked as one of the players that can lead Venezuela in the future, including reaching the World Cup for the first time in 2022. Playing in Boca Juniors will be his chance to show that these expectations are not surreal.