UEFA.com’s weekly wonderkid: Theo Hernández

Younger brother of Atlético Madrid club-mate Lucas, Theo Hernández has been catching the eye with his fleet-footed performances while on loan at Alavés. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid are said to be keeping tabs on the 19-year-old Rojiblancos left-back. Here’s why.

Name: Theo Hernández
Club: Alavés (on loan from Atlético Madrid)
Debut: 28 August 2016 v Sporting Gijón (Liga)
Position: defender
Nationality: French
Born: 6 October 1997
Preferred foot: left
Height: 184cm

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Theo Hernández in friendly action for Atlético

They say …
“I’d love him to come back to us, and having that healthy competition will make us both better players. He’s a brilliant player; he’s shown that. I want us to continue improving, compete for a position and when I retire in ten years’ time I’ll leave knowing that the left-back slot is in good hands.”
Filipe Luís, Atlético Madrid full-back

“I spoke to Theo three weeks ago. I told him I’m very happy with what he’s doing, just as I was with Saúl Ñíguez when he was at Rayo. It was an important thing for Saúl to do and look where he is now.”
Diego Simeone, Atlético Madrid coach

Background …
Theo hails from impressive footballing stock, with his father Jean-François a defender who enjoyed a lengthy playing career with Toulouse, Sochaux and Marseille before making his mark in Spain with Compostela, Rayo Vallecano and Atlético Madrid. Born in Marseille, Theo and his brother joined Atleti’s youth academy while his father was based in the Spanish capital, and big things have long been expected of the siblings.

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Theo Hernández celebrates an Alavés goal

After excelling at youth level for the Rojiblancos, the 19-year-old was awarded a new deal last summer before being loaned to Liga new boys Alavés, where he has made the left-back berth his own. A man in demand at club level, there have also been murmurings that Spain want the youngster to pledge his future to the Roja, yet thus far his international appearances have all come for France’s age-group teams.

Playing style …
Ever keen to get forward, Theo boasts searing pace and excellent delivery, while his height and power lend an impressive athleticism to his play.

Shades of …
Theo’s pace, verve and crossing acumen are reminiscent of Jordi Alba. However, given his physical attributes and ability on the ball, there are echoes too of Gareth Bale from the Welsh international’s days as a full-back.

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Theo Hernández taking on parent club Atlético

Eureka moment …
He perhaps came to Real Madrid’s attention when he left Danilo and Pepe in his wake during Alavés’s 4-1 loss to the Merengues earlier this season, crossing for Deyverson to score a surprise opener. Then again, the exciting young defender has been a known quantity for some time, merely confirming his promise this season.

With Filipe Luís settled at left-back in the Atlético line-up, his decision to join Alavés on loan has proved inspired, and he has helped the promoted outfit secure mid-table safety as well as a place in the Copa del Rey final.

Best-case scenario …
Despite the transfer links, Atlético plan to have Theo as part of their first-team squad next season, not least since Filipe Luís will turn 32 this summer. If his brother can continue to progress as well, the Rojiblancos’ defence could be in safe hands over the next decade.

He says …
“I’m better going forward but I’m not bad at defending either. In my position you’ve got to cover both facets of the game.”
On his role as full-back

“My style is that I’m fast, powerful, forceful … It was one of the best things I’ve done this season, but I’ve done a few more as well.”
On his assist for Deyverson against Madrid

“I don’t do anything in particular with it. I’ve just had that advantage from when I was a kid.”
On his pace

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