Push Notification


Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics

Kendry Páez: A look at Chelsea’s newest wonderkid and why he could be a future star at Stamford Bridge – scout report

The term ‘wonderkid’ gets thrown about way too often these days, but Ecuadorian club Independiente del Valle have a true wonderkid on their hands in the form of Kendry Páez, and his future has already been decided. The 16-year-old has broken into the senior squad at his club and has dazzled for his nation at both u17 and u20 competitions – quite a remarkable feat for someone so young.

Premier League club Chelsea have taken note of the youngster’s obvious talent and have agreed a deal to sign Páez for an astonishing fee of £17.5m, but there’s a catch, Blues fans. The attack-minded player will stay in Ecuador until 2025, meaning he will officially be a Chelsea player when he turns 18.

This scout report will provide a tactical analysis of Páez, looking at what Chelsea fans have to look forward to. The analysis will provide some insight into how he has suited Independiente’s tactics and why he has been able to make the impressive step up the national u20 side so quickly. It has also been recently confirmed that one of the highest-rated managers in world football, Mauricio Pochettino, will become the new manager at Stamford Bridge – his contract is only a two-year deal with the option of a third, and if things to plan for the former Spurs boss, Páez may get to work closely with a manager who has garnered a reputation for developing young players in a first-team setting.

It is worth noting that any data included in this scout report does not include Páez’s statistics from the U17 World Cup, which is currently taking place. Thus, the data used is taken from Páez’s performances in Liga Pro 2023, Copa Libertadores 2023, Sudamericano U17 2023, and U17 national friendlies dating back to 2022. This will be labelled as “all comps” on the relevant data graphics.

Player Profile

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics

Páez, in a nutshell, is an attacking midfielder blessed with the versatility and ability to play on either flank or through the middle. During his time with the Ecuador youth teams over recent months, he has had a varied role – from playing as a number ’10’ to playing on the right side of a midfield three to playing as a right attacking midfielder, and more – this is an early indicator of his ability to be effective in a number of roles. For Independiente, he has achieved a similar versatility, playing in winger roles on either flank as well as appearances in attacking midfield roles.

Off-the-ball aggression  

It’s also somewhat refreshing to see an attack-minded player who is individually aggressive: someone whose instincts tell them to go and hunt the ball even if it strays from the team’s tactical path. In his time so far, Páez has brought exactly this to the table, showing not only the desire and energy to execute a press but the timing and awareness to do so in the right moments and areas. In this segment, we will provide some analysis of how he likes to conduct himself in the opposition half when his team don’t have possession.

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
An effective counterpress from Paez.

Páez’s ability to recognise an opportunity and act quickly & accordingly is phenomenal for a player of his age. In the example above, he shows good mental attributes to recognise the chance to press and when to execute but also shows good physical traits to get in quickly, using enough strength to effectively eliminate the opponent and collect the ball, giving his team the chance of a dangerous attacking transition high up the pitch. It is worth noting that following a couple of scrappy attempts by the opponent to clear the ball, Páez finished this move off himself, finding the back of the next after he was the one to win the ball back in the first place.

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
Paez’s role when pressing as part of a unit.

Maturity is something that can come to players at varying ages, but Páez is already showing signs of playing ahead of his years, particularly with his tactical understanding and positional awareness – two traits he uses well when pressing as part of a unit rather than just flying into a press solo.

Allowing the two strikers to occupy space higher up limits the opposition’s chances to play out from the back, and Páez (red-highlighted player outside the box) marking the next opposition passing option lowers those odds even more. While he isn’t actually applying a press on the ball this time, his positioning is important to his side’s tactics in this scenario.

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics

This visual gives us more insight into how effective Páez can be in terms of winning the ball back in high areas. 30 counterpressing recoveries in the small number of games he has featured in so far is an impressive total and it may be a trait that earns him some major credit later in his career. Six dangerous recoveries also tells us that he has the knack for stealing the ball either in dangerous areas or making full use of the transition that follows a turnover.

Technical magician

Anybody who has experience playing Football Manager will know that feeling of pure elation when you discover and sign a player with raw natural technical ability, and Páez will give Chelsea fans that same feeling thanks to his technical talent. His attributes when it comes to dribbling, ball control, and general attacking contributions already make him a big threat.

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
A mazy run from the youngster, followed by a clinical finish.

There isn’t really a great deal we can say about Páez’s dribbling talents, other than just how impressive he is to watch and how frightening he probably is to defend against. He shows aggression, attacking intent, and speed in his dribbling, and has sent numerous defenders for a hotdog with a quick direction change already. The example above showcases how deadly he can be in a seemingly quiet situation – he collects the ball in a wide area with plenty of opposition players back behind the ball.

Where many players would look for a safe lateral pass to help maintain attacking pressure, Páez drove straight at the full-back ahead of him – showing great agility to weave in and out before entering the box and smashing the ball home with scary power. The best players have the ability to turn moments of possession into something special in the blink of an eye and boy does Páez offer that!

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
A swarm of opponents doesn’t put him off driving forward.

You may be getting slightly sick of reading the phrase “for a player of his age” in reference to how good Páez is despite being just 16, but it really is quite exciting to watch him take the ball and glide through a cluster of opponents before bearing down on goal. The image above captured that moment exactly – Páez showing immense composure and confidence to still drive toward goal despite being surrounded.

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
A goal worthy of a highlight reel from Paez.

His lightning speed served him well in that move as he was able to accelerate away from oncoming opponents and into the box. Credit should also be given for the high level of ball control that Páez demonstrates when travelling with the ball at high speed – defenders find it very difficult to stop. Páez finished this mazy run off with a goal as well.

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
Paez is no stranger to utilising smart movement.

Just like he showed in his work off the ball, Páez can take be highly effective in simple ways when his team have possession. Awareness and movement are traits that some players can make look effortless, natural even – Páez is on that path currently.

He has also proven that he can identify and exploit spaces in attack, just like he did in the example above. Chile are attempting to defend in a compact way but they leave space between their midfield and defensive units and Páez recognises this as an area where he/his team could cause danger. He also scanned the area more than once to continuously ensure he was able to receive the ball and drive forward.

Goal contributions

Any attacking midfielder/winger worth their salt chips in with goals and assists: Páez has made a promising start in this regard, chipping in at both club and international level. This includes becoming the youngest player to ever score in the FIFA U20 World Cup when he bagged in Ecuador’s 9-0 win over Fiji. He also chips in with assists and chance creation, so we will discuss that as well in this segment of analysis.

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics

We have already covered a couple of the youngster’s goals through the course of this scout report, but the xG map above provides further insight. He is slightly underperforming his xG in the competitions mentioned in the intro, but it is worth noting that he attempts plenty of long-range efforts. This may something that Poch, or whoever his manager is a few years down the line, looks to change as many of his long-range shots thus far have missed the target.

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
Good movement, combined with pace, allows Paez to be effective in the early stages of a counterattack.

Onto his ability to create chances on goal now, and this move starts with Páez running onto a through ball on the right flank, with little in the way of close support. While there was a small chance of him attempting a 1v1, he uses good judgement to slow the move down, allowing time for attacking runs in other areas.

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
A good show of vision and passing range.

Utilising good close control and overall footwork, Páez was able to get the ball fully under his control and rework it into a position that allowed him to bring a teammate into play. He spotted the good run of his teammate on the opposite flank and shifted the ball over to him with a well-executed floated cross. Unfortunately for Páez and co., the winger was unable to control the ball so this attack came to nothing, but it was another example of Páez turning a rather standard moment into something somewhat dangerous.

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
Impeccable ability on display to pick out an excellent pass into the path of his teammate.

The ability to be creative in key moments can change games, and as evidenced by setting up the equalising goal in the dying embers of the game against Brazil U17, Páez has that trait in the locker already. Following a failed set-piece attack from Brazil and a subsequent scramble for possession, Ecuador emerged from the rubble with possession – Páez leading his team in the counterattack with a drive through the middle.

With credit going to his teammates for making good runs with excellent pace and timing, Páez also contributes more than effectively. He checks his dribble after spotting the run of his teammate on the left flank before spraying a mouth-watering pass into the path of his teammate, who carried the ball on a dazzling run before netting the equaliser. Creativity in a key moment from Chelsea-bound Páez.

Kendry Páez at Independiente de Valle 2023 – scout report tactical analysis tactics

Three assists so far indicates Páez is already settling into a healthy habit of contributing where it really counts – and that is with him outperforming his xA. While he has been tasked with corner duties from time to time, his real danger appears to be creating chances in and around the edge of the box in central areas.


Officially, Kendry Páez is the first finalised transfer made by Chelsea since appointing Pochettino, and, if all goes to plan, it will be a transfer that will go down in history.

Páez raised interest from several clubs around Europe before Chelsea won his signature – the likes of Bayern Munich and Manchester United were reportedly keeping tabs on the 16-year-old.

He is currently tearing it up for Ecuador U20s in the World Cup and there are reports circulating that he has earned a call-up to the senior side already – this player is one worthy of the word wonderkid, but only time will tell if he can fulfil his massive potential.