When a teenager is receiving first team minutes in a top-flight league, scouts begin to take notice, particularly if said player was already on their respective radars.
According to Venezuelan-based outlet Fichajes.net, Wikelman Carmona is receiving quite a bit of interest from European clubs. Bryant Márquez Trotta writes that the midfielder is already attracting the attention of La Liga outfits Granada, Rayo Vallecano, and Osasuna. Additionally, both Cagliari of the Italian Serie A and English second division side Middlesbrough “have scouts following the Venezuelan’s performance.”
Initially appearing destined for the reserve team, the teenager has emerged as a favorite of manager Gerhard Struber. Carmona has played 17 times for the Red Bulls this season, making 12 starts. He has contributed one goal and one assist. While his production may be underwhelming from the advanced midfielder position, his creativity and innate understanding of the game are often on display. With age and experience, consistency should improve, ideally intersecting with his frequently discussed potential.
European clubs have been watching the young talent for a few years. In 2018, Carmona trained with Spanish giants Atlético Madrid for a month and reportedly made a “good impression.” A year later, he spent a week with RB Leipzig, paving the way for his move to New York. After signing, Kristian Dyer reported that Levante, Huesca, the Philadelphia Union, LAFC, and the talent factory that is City Football Group were in pursuit of the teenager.
Sports VIP described Carmona as highly technical player capable of driving runs, controlled possession, and long-distance shooting, all of which have at times been on display with the Red Bulls. He made a few appearances for the Venezuela U-17 team at the 2019 South American U-17 Championships. Despite being largely on the outskirts of the program, the senior squad and much larger clubs continue to monitor his progress, waiting for a breakthrough.
Red Bull initially approached Carmona after scouting him at a U-16 international tournament in Prague. He was recommended for Bragantino, but logistical difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in him being sent to New York. The presence of his countryman and fellow client of agency T&C Sports Management, Cristian Cásseres, likely aided in the move.
At the amateur level, he played with Academia Dynamo on the Isla Margarita, located off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. The youth club practices the Método Direccional program, which “encourages progress” from players by “progressively taking them from the simple to the complex.” Carmona compared the environment at New York to his former home, claiming that both organizations “value players and care about improving them.
Red Bull is known for walking the delicate tightrope of talent development and achieving results on the field. To the stated chagrin of ownership, New York has performed better at the latter than the former, not providing the steady stream of sales that defines Salzburg and Leipzig. While the current season has certainly shifted that paradigm and been far from ideal – a reality reflected in the current table position – several young players have emerged as future potential stars. Carmona is yet to be a truly impactful player on the field, only sporadically wielding his creative influencing and setting the tone, providing brief glimpses with a searing dribbling run or perfectly measured long-range shot. The decision to establish a new order this season could pay future dividends, both on field and in the transfer market, but the adjustment has been rougher than expected, exacerbated by injury woes.
Rumored transfer interest, while nebulous, does provide some validation of the roster’s underlying talent level, as the market is what determines value. A player supposedly attracting such attention – a continuation extending from his academy days – could bode well for the Red Bulls and the oft-discussed project. Now the challenge is putting Carmona’s potential into practice and reaping the benefits, an inexact and difficult pursuit that will forever beguile managers and derail the best laid plans of mice and heads of sport.