Cologne are preparing for their first European campaign in over a quarter of a century, and the Billy Goats have gone about strengthening their flock with some Latino flair this summer. Following the arrivals of Jhon Cordoba and Joao Queiros, Jorge Meré is the next through the door at the RheinEnergieSTADION, and the Spanish centre-back comes with a mighty reputation from his homeland.
Signing a five-year contract in Cologne, Meré is certainly seen as one for the future by the Billy Goats. That is also the case back in Spain, where the U21 international is viewed as a natural successor to Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique at the heart of La Roja’s defence as the feuding Real Madrid and Barcelona pair head towards the end of their international careers.
Meré combines the best of both of these World Cup winners into one. From Ramos he has inherited his love of a tackle and his aggressiveness in defence, whilst resembling Pique in his vision and ability to initiate play from the back. They are traits that stand him in good stead at such a young age and can only be improved upon in the Bundesliga – a league where youth is given a chance to flourish.
Watch: Will Meré be joining the ranks of these 10 Bundesliga wonderkids?
The 20-year-old already has everything you want in a modern defender. As well as those qualities already mentioned, Meré is quick, strong in the air and reads the game well. The centre-back provides a complete package, and that has not escaped the attention of Cologne, who have been keeping tabs on the defender for some time.
Meré became an undisputed first-choice defender in his two seasons with Sporting Gijon in La Liga. Despite his age, the youngster has already made 56 appearances in the Spanish top flight, cutting his teeth against global stars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Although the U21 international played every minute in all but one of his 31 La Liga appearances last season, he was unable to prevent Gijon’s relegation. Sensing his time in northern Spain was at an end, Meré reportedly fielded numerous offers for his service before deciding that Cologne and the Bundesliga was the way forward in his development.
The Billy Goats can look forward to a player who has represented Spain at every youth level. “He’s already very good for his age,” Cologne’s chairman Jörg Schmadtke announced following the signing.
Those of you who watched the U21 European Championship in Poland this summer will certainly have seen Meré in action. Young enough still to be eligible for the next edition of the tournament in two years’ time, the defender started four of Spain’s five matches at the championship, as well as getting acquainted with future opponents from the Bundesliga in the 1-0 final defeat to Germany. The title would have been the second at international level for the 20-year-old to go with the EURO U19 medal he won in 2015.
Meré has been brought to Cologne as a player for the future, but do not be surprised if he is given his chance to shine from the start by Peter Stöger. With Cologne in Europa League action alongside the usual Bundesliga and DFB Cup schedule, Meré could well be a regular feature in the Billy Goats’ defence – either in a back three or four – and fill the gap left by Neven Subotic’s return to Borussia Dortmund.
Cologne are set to provide Meré with the chance to shine on the top-flight and European club stage, following in the footsteps of compatriot Marc Bartra at Dortmund, whilst Meré offers the Carnival Club the future of Spanish football at the heart of their defence. A match made in Bundesliga heaven.
Watch: Check out the Carnival atmosphere Meré will enjoy at Cologne