Why Pedro Franco’s Colombia call is a big deal.

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Updated: October 5, 2014

Colombia’s manager José Pekerman announced his squad for the games with El Salvador and Canada two days ago, and the list of names included Pedro Camilo Franco.

Since Pekerman’s announcement there have been a lot of positive reactions from both Franco’s faithful Millonarios fans, who still follow his career to date, and the Beşiktaş community.

Franco’s first ever senior call-up received quite a bit of attention in Turkey, Beşiktaş issued an official statement on their website and it has been thorougly mentioned and discussed in the Turkish media.

So why is this such a big deal you may wonder? Well it’s pretty simple, because it rarely happens that a young player (Pedro was 21 (now 23) when he transferred to Beşiktaş last summer) like Pedro comes to one of the top teams in Turkey and receives his first senior squad call-up, thanks to his solid performances.

Usually Turkish ‘giants’ as Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray buy established names. Guys who have already featured plentyful for their national team, even when it’s a younger player, they’ve rarely made their senior squad debut based on their performances in Turkey or for the Turkish team in question in European competitions.

Beşiktaş opted for a promising and talented player rather than an already established one, with young talented players like Franco, Özyakup, Töre, Frei and more experienced and established players like Ba, Sosa, Sivok, Hutchinson and Tolga the Eagles look like a very interesting cocktail of promising talent and experienced quality players. Despite his young age he has quickly established himself as one of the pillars of Bilic’s team, once he was given the chance.

It’s somewhat a confirmation of Beşiktaş’ good transfer policies over the past two seasons that Franco has managed to be included in Pekerman’s selection.

It’s one thing for players like Oguzhan Özyakup to make his senior squad debut for Turkey whilst playing for the Eagles, but having a foreign player making his senior squad debut is a whole other story.

As mentioned the big Turkish teams generally prefer experienced/established players especially when it comes to their foreign players given that they are limited to having only eight (previously ten) in their squad due to the foreigner rule in Turkey (five allowed on the pitch, two on the bench and one extra in the stands (totalling eight)).

Foreign players are generally expected to have an immediate impact and contribute greatly to the team, Pedro initially didn’t play much the first six months (he only played once in an official game in a cup game vs. Bucaspor) however after making his league debut against Trabzonspor as a second-half substitute it has been hard to imagine a starting line-up which does not include Franco’s name.

It has to be noted however that Franco did feature quite a bit for Colombia’s youth selections while he was playing for FC Millonarios. Many Colombian fans expected his call-up to happen sooner, or atleast they hoped for it to happen sooner.

With the international retirement of Mario Yepes there will be a void to fill in the heart of Colombia’s defence but the team will also be looking for a new leader in defence. Despite Pedro’s young age he has shown his leadership qualities at FC Millonarios, who he captained, and at Beşiktaş aswell. Eversince making his debut for the Black Eagles he has shown that he is often steering his partner in defence and in addition doing very well at covering his teammates’ backs, effectively covering potential holes in the defence.

In fact, Mario Yepes spoke to José Pekerman before officially announcing his retirement for the national team of Colombia and told the coach he should consider Pedro Franco to fill the void he would leave behind.

Wtih Franco in the Eagles’ defence they have looked very stable, so far this season Beşiktaş have only conceded two goals in five league games. Although he only came on as a substitute against Rizespor.

His performances for Beşiktaş over the past eight months have definitely justified a selection for Colombia. Hopefully Franco will show the same performance for Pekerman’s men, when given the chance, as he did for the Black Eagles and he will surely establish himself as a starter for Colombia in the coming years.

Beşiktaş paid FC Millonarios a relatively high amount of €2.400.000 in the summer of 2013, he signed a five-year contract keeping him at the club untill June 2018.

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Kaan Bayazit

Editor-in-chief at Beşiktaş International
Freelance sports writer specialized in Turkish football and Beşiktaş. Co-host of the Black Eagles podcast. Frequently featured in World Soccer Digest Japan and many other international media outlets. Following Turkish football for close to two decades. Proud father to Aedin.
Kaan Bayazit
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