Diego Laxalt declared at the end of the season that he wanted to move on from Genoa and he has used the World Cup as a perfect shop window to show just what he can do.
The versatile winger left his homeland in 2013 to sign for giants Inter, and after unsuccessful loans at Bologna and Empoli, found the perfect environment to showcase his growing ability.
The Rossoblu officially acquired the services of the player in the summer of 2016 and Laxalt was never given a proper chance with Inter. The midfielder’s game time amounted to a handful of minutes on a pre-season tour, perhaps surprising given the Milan side’s penchant for a South American.
The Grifone regular is currently performing for Uruguay at the World Cup after a personal best campaign at domestic level. Laxalt’s numbers don’t do him justice, but the Montevideo native was instrumental in helping the Rossoblu climb away from the drop zone and finish in a respectable 12th place.
Amid all the confusion surrounding the constant chopping and changing of Coaches, Laxalt took on the responsibility of driving his club up the table and back-to-back last-minute goals against Lazio and Chievo highlighted the improvement in the Uruguayan.
Laxalt was rewarded for his 2018 form with a place in Oscar Washington Tabarez’s final 23-man squad for Russia. He had to settle for a spot on the substitute’s bench in La Celeste’s 1-0 victory over Egypt, but has not looked back since. In a show of confidence, the ex-Defensor Sporting starlet was positioned in an unfamiliar left-back role, starting two of La Celeste’s last three matches, and it’s easy to see why. Laxalt is quick, possesses great strength in the challenge and is extremely versatile.
The pinnacle of his burgeoning international career so far is his performance against Portugal. Laxalt shackled not only Bernardo Silva, a supremely gifted talent, but his full-back Ricardo Pereira too. Pereira is famed for his ability to get forward from defence, but endured a frustrating night, while compatriot Silva was eventually moved infield. Ricardo Quaresma fared no better, struggling to break down the unorthodox defender.
Next up is the much-fancied France and it promises to be Laxalt’s biggest test yet. The longer Uruguay stay in the tournament, the longer the player will attract interest and in Kylian Mbappé, Laxalt could not have a bigger job on his hands.
Whatever the outcome, Uruguay have benefitted from having another attack-minded player in the side, an outlet which has allowed the bigger names in front to thrive. Marseille and Lazio will be keen spectators for the quarter-final to see Laxalt on the biggest stage.