Marcelo Flores has had to be patient with his club and country over the last year or two, but he’s certainly taking his opportunities when they come.
Flores signed for Arsenal when he was 15 years old, following his sisters Silvana and Tatiana in making the move to North London. But whilst Silvana and Tatiana have since moved across London to Spurs and Chelsea respectively, Marcelo has committed his future to Arsenal until 2025.
The teenager can play in attacking midfield or out on the wings, and he’s an impressive dribbler and finisher. But he’s had to work for his chances and overcome some obstacles with Arsenal and on the international stage.
Starting with Flores’ international career, he’s at the centre of a battle primarily between Mexico and Canada, but also England. He’s eligible to represent all three, and he hasn’t officially ruled out any option just yet.
There was a sense that he felt overlooked by Mexico in the past, notably when they left him out of the u17 World Cup squad in 2019.
That opened the door to Canada, who invited him to a Men’s National Team camp and included him on the preliminary list for the Gold Cup over the summer.
Mexico finally seem to have reacted to the competition for Flores' future, calling him up to their u20 team for friendlies in September and October, before including him most recently in their squad for the Revelations Cup this month. Mexico u20s faced off against Colombia, Brazil, and the USA in a round-robin competition.
Flores starred at the event, earning praise from his manager in the Colombia 0-0, scoring the winner against Brazil, and both scoring and assisting in a 2-1 victory over the USA to win the cup. He also won the Player of the Tournament award.
He showed all his best attributes with his goal on Tuesday, driving at the US defence before powering a shot past the goalkeeper before anyone had time to react.
On social media, there’s a bit of a campaign going on in the replies to the Mexican National Team Twitter account, with fans demanding Flores be called up to the first team. They’re desperate not to lose him to Canada.
With Arsenal, Flores has also had some setbacks and delays. He broke into the Arsenal u18s in 2020/21, and he made an impressive start, but an injury setback saw him out of action for close to four months right in the middle of the season.
That ensured that it was Kido Taylor-Hart who got opportunities in the u23s around the turn of the year, and Taylor-Hart and Omari Hutchinson have continued to hold places ahead of Flores in the pecking order in 2021/22 so far.
But again, Flores has responded to that challenge in the best possible way. Remaining with the Arsenal u18s, he has six goals and two assists in eight games this season. Along with Khayon Edwards, he’s helped to lead Dan Micciche’s side from the front.
In terms of ability and performance, Flores looks ready for the next level. There’s just a lot of competition in the u23s right now.
The good news is that given Flores turned 18 in October, this will certainly be his last season at u18 level.
Before making the step up, Flores will likely get the chance to make his final appearance in the FA Youth Cup, in what looks to be a talented young side.
Flores, Edwards, and Hutchinson could well be joined by other youth internationals like Charlie Patino, Brooke Norton-Cuffy, Zane Monlouis, Reuell Walters, Jack Henry-Francis and Amario Cozier-Duberry in Arsenal’s youth cup team.
After winning the Mexico u20s the Revelations Cup, perhaps Flores could make himself the driving force behind an Arsenal cup run. Then it would be hard for club or country to justify holding him back in 2022.