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Marcelo Moreno: Potential world-beater at Wigan Athletic

Current results may suggest otherwise, but Wigan Athletic arguably did the best business of Premiership clubs in the January market. The Latics are struggling to find consistency under manager Roberto Martinez, but ex-Celtic defender Gary Caldwell has impressed since his return to England, while there's great excitement surrounding Victor Moses, the former Crystal Palace forward.

However, it's the little known Marcelo Moreno, the loan signing from Shakhtar Donetsk, who could prove Martinez's biggest long-term success.

The Latics manager had to move quickly to land the Bolivia international, who had gone well down the road with Brazilian giants Palmeiras before getting the call from Martinez. Inside the final 15 minutes of the winter transfer window, Wigan managed to get the striker's transfer rubberstamped at 16:44pm.

Coming through the ranks at Vitoria, Moreno, thanks to his Brazilian father, become the first foreign-born player to turn out for Brazil U20 before eventually committing his international future to Bolivia. It was in Brazil where Moreno made his reputation, finishing the top scorer of South America's Copa Libertadores with Cruzeiro and attracting the interest of Europe's biggest clubs, including an offer from Real Madrid.

"I speak Portuguese and when I do I'm Brazilian, Brazil is an important country in my life, I lived there for half of it, but I am above all Bolivian, I love both countries, but no doubt, but I am Bolivian," said Moreno.

Moreno's goal scoring form with Cruzeiro saw Real come knocking, but despite the language and cultural barrier, the striker chose Shakhtar, explaining: "I knew they were buying a lot of players, it seemed exciting."

But by his own admission, the move to Shakhtar was a disaster. He spent much of his first season on the bench before being farmed out to Werder Bremen, where again he struggled to adjust.

"Everything was difficult," Moreno admitted recently, "the language, the food, everything.

"But I've been in Europe for two years, experienced Ukraine and Germany (with Werder Bremen) and the sad times are behind me."

That's what Martinez is counting on. The Spaniard is the first manager able to communicate freely with Moreno since his move to Europe and is convinced he is worth the gamble.

Moreno is in England with his brother for company, his girlfriend is joining him and his dad and other brother are arriving this month.

He said: "I feel at home here because the manager speaks Spanish, it helps me understand the tactics and I also have people who look after me.

"It's a help that some of the players speak Spanish too, but we are told to talk English on the pitch. I am picking up words already."

If he does enough to convince Martinez to sign him permanently, Moreno will become Wigan's record transfer. But it is sure to be money well spent if Martinez can help Bolivia's biggest name since Marco Etcheverrey recapture the best of his South American form.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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