Piero Hincapie is widely regarded as one of the most promising defenders in football. bundesliga.com profiles the Bayer Leverkusen youngster underpinning Ecuador's push for the 2022 World Cup last 16...
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Centre-back/ left-back
Country: Ecuador (23 caps, one goal)
Hincapie made the switch to Leverkusen at the age of 19, after impressing for Ecuador at the 2021 Copa America. Handed his senior international debut in the group opener against Colombia, the 6'0" defender started all five games as his country reached the quarter-finals, where they lost 3-0 to eventual winners Argentina. He had already made 33 competitive appearances for Argentinian club Talleres when he signed a five-year deal with Leverkusen, for whom he debuted and scored his first goal in the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League groups. His maiden international strike followed in a 1-0 2022 World Cup qualifying win over Venezuela - three points that ultimately proved the difference between his country's automatic passage to the finals and a place in the play-offs - and he ended the year with a first Bundesliga goal, against Greuther Fürth, to his name.
Hincapie wrapped up his debut Bundesliga season with 27 appearances under his belt, along with a tackle success rate of 85 percent and 82 percent pass completition. Playing in a further 13 top-flight matches prior to the 2022 World Cup, he is once again among Bayer's top five players for challenges and aerial challenges won, and successful passes from open play. A 2020 U20 Copa Copa Libertadores winner with boyhood club Independiente del Valle, the Leverkusen No.3 has since played 11 times in UEFA club competition. He flits between centre- and left-back in Die Werkself colours, but has won all his senior international caps to date at the heart of the Ecuador defence.
Plays a bit like: Lucas Hernandez
Tenacious, comfortable with the ball at his feet, versatile and left-footed: Hincapie has a lot in common with Bayern Munich counterpart Lucas Hernandez. Statistically - at least for slide tackles, aerial challenges and passes to a man in 2022/23 - he's even ahead of the France 2018 World Cup-winning defender.
Watch: Skip to 00:51 seconds to see Piero Hincapie's first Bundesliga goal
Did you know?
Hincapie says his brother has compared him to Argentina's Cristian Romero, but the man himself modelled his game on legendary Spain centre-back pair Carles Puyol and Sergio Ramos.
"On Fridays, when we travelled by bus for seven or eight hours to play for Independiente del Valle, I watched a lot of videos of Puyol and Sergio Ramos," Hincapie - who left home at 10 to pursue his dream of one day playing football professionally - told Scouted Football.
"I watched the videos so I wouldn't get bored on the bus, and that's when I realised that I really liked Puyol. He had a special way of playing, perhaps less technical than Ramos, but he was a leader and captain. One of the best centre-backs I've ever seen."
What they're saying
"We knew he had the potential, but the way he's rising to the challenge and coping with the intensity levels is really impressive. We're pleasantly surprissed with how he's performing in the Bundesliga and Europe." - former Leverkusen head coach Gerardo Seoane
"We've had our eye on him for a while. His performances against absolute world-class players at the Copa America confirmed to us what an exciting future he has." - Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes
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