Some Bundesliga fans may remember the Ecuador international from his time with VfB Stuttgart, and now they have a second chance to get to know the defensive midfielder who has joined Augsburg from MLS side FC Dallas.
bundesliga.com gives you the lowdown on the N’Golo Kante-style midfielder set to slot into the Augsburg midfield in 2019/20…
Position: Defensive midfield
Country: Ecuador (26 caps)
Having begun his career at Independiente DV, Gruezo took the first major steps in his career at Barcelona SC Guayaquil in the Ecuadorian top flight, making his debut aged just 17, Gruezo quickly grabbed the attention of European clubs – namely, Stuttgart – and made his move to the Bundesliga in 2013. Playing 17 games across three seasons in the Bundesliga, Gruezo helped keep his side in the top flight, but could not stamp his authority at the Mercedes-Benz Arena and moved back to the Americas, this time North to the United States of America, and FC Dallas.
It is at Dallas where Gruezo – who is still young in the footballing world at just 24 – revitalised his career. He gathered 114 appearances for the MLS side, scoring five goals while winning the Supporters’ Shield and US Open Cup in 2016 with the Texan club.
Having made his international debut with Ecuador against the Netherlands in a friendly in 2014, Gruezo had been in and out of the squad until last year and into this year’s Copa America. The midfielder has made 26 appearances for his country in total – two of which came in the 2014 FIFA World Cup - and started and finished two of their group stages matches in the 2019 Copa America against Chile and Japan.
Plays a bit like: N’Golo Kante
Gruezo is a short defensive midfielder who hounds opposition players who dare attempt to take possession of the ball in the middle of the pitch. Chelsea and France star N’Golo Kante has become arguably the world’s best at breaking up opposition attacks, and Gruezo appears to have developed his game in the same ilk. Doing everything to win the ball back physically, whether it be tackling or using his impressive strength, or mentally, using his ability to read the game and make interceptions. His low-centre of gravity – at 5'6" tall – helps him to burst out out of trouble if needed, before showing off his distribution skills. While Gruezo appears to prefer the simple option and giving creative players around him as much time on the ball as possible, he can also produce a cross-field pass when required.
Did you know?
Gruezo became the first and only Ecuadorian ever to score in the Bundesliga on 28 November 2014, when he found the net against Freiburg for Stuttgart. He is one of three Ecuadorian’s to have ever played in the German top flight, with Andersson Ordonez’s four appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt the next best. Felix Borja helped Mainz to promotion in 2009, but only played six minutes in the top flight.
What they’re saying
“I have gathered a lot of important experience in Dallas and I now want to show that in Augsburg.” – Gruezo
“He’s given everything for this shirt. He showed respect on and off the field and that’s how he’ll be remembered at the club.” – FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez
“He wanted to go back and get this challenge again in his career. He was very young when he first went to the Bundesliga and now he has this opportunity with a different club, a club that believes in him.” – FC Dallas technical director Andre Zanotta