Marlos Moreno shows versatility and talent in the Copa Libertadores
Two Copa Libertadores, games, two victories, two fine goals, two splendid assists -- 19-year-old Marlos Moreno of Colombia's Atletico Nacional is on fire.
He came on strongly in the last few months of 2015, winning a place in the team and playing an important role in Nacional's domestic league triumph. He scored in the quarterfinal against Deportivo Cali, and claimed the vital goal in the final against Junior Barranquilla which forced a penalty shootout.
Starting on the left wing but increasingly moving towards the centre, he showed pace, skill, mobility and a big-match temperament, enough to make him the standout revelation of South American football in 2015.
The good news this year is that he has already moved up to another level. Under the careful eye of coach Reinaldo Rueda, who made his name as a youth development specialist, Moreno is adding more to his game.
Nacional have been without their star playmaker Macnelly Torres so far in the Libertadores but Rueda has used his absence through injury as an opportunity to highlight the versatility of Moreno's game.
In these opening two matches -- a 2-0 win away to Huracan of Argentina followed by a 3-0 triumph at home to Peru's Sporting Cristal -- Moreno has shown that he can operate across the attacking line.
In Argentina he played in a position just behind improvised centre-forward Victor Ibarbo, sometimes swapping over with the man recently signed on loan from Watford. In Medellin Moreno usually operated wide on the right, occasionally moving inside and trading places with the tricky Venezuelan Alejandro Guerra.
Wherever he plays, Moreno is showing dazzling individual talent. His goals both came from blistering right foot strikes -- all ability and conviction -- and it is worth recalling that his vital goal in December against Junior came from a slalom dribble followed by a cross shot with his left foot.
But this is much more than a case of another naturally gifted youngster; the striking thing about Moreno is his instinct to play collectively. He is already adept at hunting for space in between the lines of the opposing team, and his first thought on receiving possession is usually to pass and move.
Last week's role called on him to make mature decisions -- with Huracan pressing forward in front of their own fans, there were opportunities on the counter-attack -- providing the right pass was played at the right time. Moreno rarely faltered, setting up the clinching second goal with an intelligent ball played behind the opposing defence.
Sporting Cristal were clearly going to be less ambitious and space had to be created with clever passing moves. Moreno excelled here as well. Both the goal he scored and the one he set up for Jonathan Copete came from quick, dynamic exchanges of passes with Ibarbo.
Indeed, having the chance to combine with a well-travelled player with such strength on the ball is clearly proving to be a boon for Moreno, who so far in the Libertadores is more than living up to his billing.
What comes next? Two games against Penarol of Uruguay -- experienced, rugged rivals who will be looking to do a hard marking job on the young man. After all, Moreno is no longer a secret only shared by fans in Colombia. The word is out and opponents will be studying him and trying to find ways to stop him.
He will have to deal with the attention, such is the price he will have to pay for making such an outstanding start to the 2016 Copa Libertadores.
Tim Vickery covers South American football for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @Tim_Vickery.