With plenty of football experience at his side, the new Eintracht professional Willian Pacho has had good experiences on the pitch. In the previous season at Royal Antwerp, the 21-year-old formed the central defender duo with 34-year-old Toby Alderweireld (127-time Belgian international) – an assertive and confident player. The Antwerp side’s fewest goals conceded (26 in 34 games) in the Pro League contributed to the club’s league title. And Pacho won the cup with Antwerp too.
In all competitions, the young defender from Ecuador completed 50 competitive games with almost 2900 minutes of game time under the guidance of the well-known coach Mark van Bommel – an impressive record for the successful newcomer with a strong tackle rate of 57 percent. In January 2023 he was voted Player of the Month in the league.
Also this Saturday (3.30 p.m.) in the season-opening game of Frankfurt Eintracht against Nottingham Forest in the World Cup arena – up to Thursday a good 26,000 tickets were requested – an old warhorse could be Pacho’s sidekick. If the private game comes too early for the future defense chief Robin Koch, who had been plagued by adductor problems, because of a lack of training, Makoto Hasebe would be at the ready. The former Japanese national player, proud 39 years old and thus the oldest active Bundesliga player, is in an impressive early form with very good fitness values.
You’re used to that from Hasebe, whom the new coach Dino Toppmöller recently described as an “evergreen”. “It’s unbelievable how fit Makoto is. Few perform like that at this age, ”said Pacho full of appreciation on Thursday at his official presentation. Hasebe is also a “phenomenon” for him.
Pacho uses his good physique
The way Pacho has presented himself at his new workplace so far is also promising. As part of the new central defense without Evan Ndicka, who has migrated to AS Roma, his successor is on the left side of defence. While the Brazilian Tuta is struggling with old weaknesses in the formation on the right – the 24-year-old makes too many mistakes in concentration – in the pre-season, Pacho plays to his speed and passing ability. He has a good opening. In addition, the South American impresses with his tackle and header strength.
The Germany international, who made his debut against Australia in March and scored the winning goal to make it 2-1, puts his good physique to good use. His skilful positional play against the ball also helps him to intercept opponents’ passes with cleverness or to position himself in the best possible way for duels. The 1.87 meter tall Pacho has “everything you need as a defender. He’s very young, but he’s got a lot going for him,” sports director Markus Krösche praises him. “We now want to further develop its great potential.”
Pacho himself says that he can still improve on “long balls”. His versatility is an advantage: he can hold his own in a three-man or four-man formation. “I’ve played in different systems and always feel comfortable,” he emphasizes his “adaptability”. transfermarkt.de currently estimates Pacho’s market value at eleven million euros. Eintracht, who transferred substitute goalkeeper Diant Ramaj to Ajax Amsterdam for more than eight million euros on Thursday, is said to have been worth around ten million euros. The left foot, who was also interested in Borussia Mönchengladbach two years ago, received a contract until July 1, 2028.
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In January 2022, at the age of 19, Pacho moved to Antwerp. The time in Belgium was a “good step” to “grow as a player and as a person,” he says. Before entering European football, he had won the championship in his home country with Independiente del Valle in 2021, the first in the club’s history. Pacho made 40 competitive appearances for the first division club in two years and also made eleven appearances in the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the UEFA Champions League. By the age of 13 he had joined the Independiente del Valle football school, one of the top South American football academies.
“The structure and the way they treated us helped me a lot. The hardest part for me was getting away from my family, but the environment and the stadium helped me a lot,” Pacho once said on Ecuadorian television. In his home country he is now on the way to becoming a regular player in the national team. He has played the full distance in each of the past three games, scoring his second goal in three appearances against Costa Rica in June. “In the national team we come a lot over standards. And I’m one of our most physical players,” Pacho explains his goal threat. In Antwerp, on the other hand, he was never one of the goalscorers – because his main occupation there was protecting his own goal.
Pacho gets on really well with Frankfurt goalkeeper Randal Kolo Muani – “he’s always happy”. In the training games, he was able to convince himself of the final strength of the French national player. “It’s extraordinary and impressive what Randal is doing on the pitch.” Pacho communicates with many of his teammates in English. He knows his new, old teammate Buta from the time they spent together in Antwerp. He told him “a lot of good things about Eintracht”. At a young age, Pacho has now achieved his major career goal. “It was always my dream to play in the Bundesliga,” he says. Pacho will also benefit from the experience of 27-year-old Robin Koch.