Colombia’s teenage sensation Linda Caicedo has dismissed rumours of an impending transfer to European champions Barcelona, but admits she is “secretly” a fan of the club.
Caicedo finished No 13 this year in GOAL’s NXGN list, which ranks the best young players in the world. She also made the list in 2020 after top-scoring in Colombia's highest division to fire America de Cali to a first-ever Championship title.
When she made the switch to Deportivo Cali, there was talk of it being a transfer that would pave the way to Barcelona further down the line - but the 17-year-old says that is not the case.
What has Caicedo said?
In an exclusive interview with GOAL, Caicedo said: “I really like Paris [Saint-Germain], Barcelona. I'm a Barca fan here secretly! I think it's just waiting for the moment.
"I don't really choose a team - wherever God gives me to arrive and enjoy it, but right now I don't think like, ‘Ah, I want to get to this team’. No, I want things to happen for me and where I can take advantage of my talent.
“I think that every player wants to be a professional, wants to go abroad - obviously everything is in due time. Right now, I am focused on Deportivo Cali and the national team, so when the time comes for me to go abroad, I'm going to take advantage of it no matter what team and enjoy the game, not stress.
“That's what soccer is all about, it's fun and that's what I always try to do in training and in soccer matches.”
Asked about the feeling of her inclusion in this year’s NXGN list, Caicedo added: "The truth is that I am very happy. For me, all of this is very important, to see how what I have been doing bears fruit and results.
"I always try to show, I thought it was something both individual and collective, so I also take the opportunity to thank them for taking me into account and I hope to continue winning more.
"Those around me know how well I work and how hard I strive every day. It's just a way to improve, obviously. I've had a good year, just like last year, so I'm very happy and they always want me to improve, to win first, but it's about improving and growing day-by-day."
'I hope people will know me for my joy'
While right now Barcelona may not be the next destination of Caicedo, it is where one of her favourite players, Ballon d'Or winner Alexia Putellas, is making a real impact.
Talking about the players she idolises, the top scorer in last season’s Copa Libertadores said: “The truth is that Alexia has some excellent games, good numbers, she is an excellent player and I admire her as well as Alex Morgan.
“Moving onto the men's side, I really like [Lionel] Messi, Cristiano [Ronaldo], [Kylian] Mbappe, Neymar. They are players that you see from a young age and I've always wanted to be like them.
“I want to continue like this to improve and to be able to ratify myself a little more and then, continue to enjoy myself.”
As for how she would like people to talk about her in a few years’ time, Caicedo said: “As a happy girl, someone who has always wanted to get ahead, who enjoys soccer, who has fun, who always feels it.
“I still have a long way to go. I am only 17 years old. In the national team I have not won anything yet. I do not have a historical record, so I want to improve in that: 'Linda did the best in many things and she took advantage of it’'
“I am very young and I have a lot of tournaments ahead of me, so that's what I am doing. I am believing and I hope people will know me for that, for my joy, for the way I lived soccer and that's how I always want to be known everywhere.”