Quintero aiming to end year on a high

“The expectations are high,” Quintero said in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “We’re arriving on the back of a great performance in the Copa Libertadores and now we have the chance to face the champions of the other continents. We want to do well and we’re prepared for the competition.”

The Colombian midfielder’s trickery, powerful shot and magical left boot mean he has become something of a game-changer. “Juanfer is one of the players we have who can make a difference,” said Lucas Pratto, echoing the sentiments of head coach Marcelo Gallardo, who described him as “someone who can open up a game”.

“Gallardo has had a lot of influence on the way I play,” the Antioquia native said. “He’s a person who demands a lot from you and he makes things happen naturally, as a result of hard work and dedication every day. To be honest, he’s someone I’ve learned a lot from. He’s got the best out of me this last year in terms of my physical fitness and footballing ability. I’m very grateful to him.”

Quintero laughs when he admits his coach still demands more from him, keen for the attacker to fully exploit his gifts.

“He’s one of the most talented players we have,” Gallardo told Argentinian media. “Sometimes I get frustrated that he doesn’t fulfil all that potential. You have to guide the players because you want their natural talent to come to the fore in key moments, so that they don’t go unnoticed, that they take responsibility.”