Colombia’s Yerry Mina is one of the most exciting defensive prospects that the South American country has produced in years and is likely to become an essential figure in the national team.
The central defender, who plays with Spanish giants FC Barcelona has made an explosive rise through the ranks over the past couple of years from the Colombian domestic league to lining out with one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Who is Yerry Mina?
Yerry Fernando Mina Gonzalez was born on September 23, 1994 in the municipality of Guachene, Cauca.
Mina got involved in football at a very young age with local Guachene coach Seifar Aponza from the Raices soccer school recalling that he arrived at the age of five “wanting to become a goalkeeper like his father” but he soon demonstrated his potential to play out the field.
The coach who had contact with Mina throughout his underage development praised his “charisma and attitude” and tipped him to be a big success in the future.
Mina began his professional career with Deportivo Pasto in the Colombian League, making his debut in 2013, going on to represent the club 24 times before being snapped up by Bogota’s Santa Fe the following year.
Mina’s athleticism, aerial threat and technical ability on the ball saw him immediately impress in the Colombian capital, making 52 appearances for “Los Cardenales” in his first season.
The center-back went on to win Colombian league and Super League titles with Santa Fe, also securing a Copa Sudamericana, South America’s equivalent of the Europa League in 2015.
Mina joined Brazilian club Palmeiras in May 2016 for a fee of approximately $4 million and made 33 appearances for the club, notching up eight goals and two assists.
Colombian coach Jose Pekerman acknowledged the consistent performances of Mina by awarding him a debut for the national team in June 2016.
The Colombian international improved the defensive solidity if the Palmeiras side and provided additional aerial prowess in attack as they went on to win the Brazilian championship.
Mina was subsequently selected on the Brazilian championship Team of the Year for 2016.
In 2017, Barcelona came knocking and agreed a deal with Palmeiras for the services of the Colombian. Mina moved to the Camp Nou earlier than expected in January 2018 in a deal worth in the region of $14.5 million.
Thousands took to the streets of Mina’s hometown to celebrate his arrival in Barcelona with fans carrying a framed photo of the Colombian international through the streets as they rejoiced at the prospect of seeing the local boy play alongside the likes of Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez and Brazil’s Philipe Coutinho.
The former Santa Fe player surprised many when he removed his boots and socks and entered the Camp Nou pitch barefoot on the day of his unveiling but he later explained that it was a ritual that dated back to his days at the Bogota-based club.
“There is a saying in my country that says, ‘Touch the land you want to conquer with the sole of your feet.’ And here I want to make history with everyone. I always do it and I hope to succeed,” he said.
Mina became the first Colombian ever to wear the blue and red of Barcelona but has been given limited opportunities to impress, making just five appearances so far.
2018 World Cup
Along with Davinson Sanchez, Mina represents the future of the Colombian defense with both tipped by many to line out side-by-side at the World Cup in Russia.
Veteran coach Pekerman recently described Mina as “one of the greatest revelations of today’s football,” as he spoke in advance of Colombia’s 4-0 defeat of China in an international friendly.
Mina has made12 appearances for “Los Cafeteros,” scoring three goals and is likely to provide a significant set-piece threat for the national team at the World Cup.
While question marks remain as to whether Pekerman will pair the inexperienced Mina and Sanchez together at the tournament, the two are likely to form a long-term defensive partnership at international level.