Linda Caicedo. Remember the name if you don’t know it already. “Linda has the potential to become a Ballon d’Or winner, but first she has to be able to make the right decisions. She is 17 years old and very young. We have to look after her, not burn her outwe have to respect all that.”
The words of Lluís Cortés, the former manager of Barcelona Femení, who is currently in charge of the Ukraine national women’s soccer team. To say that Caicedo is Colombia’s next soccer superstar would perhaps be doing her a disservice: many will tell you that she is already there.
Where is Linda Caicedo ranked on The Guardian’s top 100 female soccer players list?
British newspaper The Guardian included the 17-year-old on their list of the top 100 female soccer players in 2022; she came in at number 74 and is its youngest member. Caicedo shot to fame at the age of 15 when she scored a superb Maradona-esque goal on her debut for Colombian club América de Cali, where she won the league title in her first season. A move across the city to Deportivo Cali followed soon after, along with a second league title and international recognition.
Colombia have qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer.
In 2022, Caicedo played in two World Cups – at under-17 and under-20 levels – and was named as the best player in the Copa América Femenina as Colombia made their way to the final, where they lost to Brazil. Las Cafeteras have qualified for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup to be played in Australia and New Zealand in July and August 2023which will give her an opportunity to make a name for herself on the biggest stage of all.
Not that the giants of women’s soccer aren’t already aware of her talents. A whole host of European clubs have been tracking her progress ever since she burst onto the scene and 22 February 2023 could well be a key date when it comes to decide where her future lies: that’s when Caicedo will turn 18 and no longer be considered a minor, leaving her free to decide what her next step will be.
Barcelona tracking Linda Caicedo
Barcelona, who have become one of European’s soccer’s biggest forces in recent years, appear to be in pole position to land her signaturewith club president Joan Laporta showering her with praise on a visit to Colombia in 2022:
“We’ve liked Linda Caicedo for a long time, for about three years, if I’m honest. She’s a very young player, but she’s stands out from the crowd and is really good. Our scouting department have got their eyes on her.”
Caicedo has been in Europe this week – in England and Germany specifically, which have led to further rumors about a possible transfer – and after attending the Women’s Super League match between Arsenal and Chelsea, gave a fascinating interview to The Guardianin which she spoke candidly about the reason for her trip.
Linda Caicedo: I have dreamed of playing abroad since I was a little girl
“It was good for me to get to know a bit of European culture. Some people are a little stricter, others are more like us Latinos, but I think this trip was really cool. It was good for me to learn and also help me decide what I want to do in the future.”
“I feel that this is the best moment to leave and take advantage of the fact that I’m turning 18. Ever since I was a little girl I have dreamed of playing abroad. I don’t just want to grow as a soccer player, but also improve myself, like getting to know another culture and learning a new language.”
Caicedo’s life may have been short but she has already had to overcome plenty of adversity. The fact that no games have been played in the Colombian league since the start of June last year pales in comparison to her fight against ovarian cancer when she was only 15. “It was something we dealt with internally. Thankfully I overcame it and I’m well now. It wasn’t easy, but with the help of my loved ones, I was ready to go back to playing once doctors told me I was OK. I feel like this is in the past, and now I can follow my path in soccer.”
Where will her path in soccer lead her? Australia and New Zealand later in the year, Barcelona – or perhaps somewhere else – before then?