Marcelo Flores has had a crazy 12 months.
Last year, the teenager Arsenal attacker was still playing U18 football. He didn’t make his debut in U23 until the last round of the 2020-21 season.
He hasn’t looked back since then.
The 18-year old has been a key player in Arsenal’s U23 team for a few months and is now regularly training with Arteta’s first team. He is also making his mark internationally.
Marcelo Flores was the main star of November’s show when he scored in all three games two goals to help Mexico’s U20 national team win their first Copa del Rey.
His performances attracted attention from the whole country, and Mexican fans began calling for Martino, the national team boss, to make the youngster’s debut.
Martino answered those calls in December when Flores was added to the squad for the friendly against Chile.
The Gunners’ striker was replaced in the 83rd minutes of the 2-2 draw. This caps a remarkable few months.
Flores, who was part of the NXGN 2022 roster said in an exclusive interview that “Finishing Mexico’s debut is a night that I will never forget.”
“All the players accepted my offer, although some were older than me. However, I became close to them and trained well.”
“It was an extremely special moment for me, my family, and me to play for the national soccer team. I thank the manager for this opportunity.”
Flores can still play for Canada, his home country, or England even though the friendly is not being listed as an official match. Although he has now admitted that his main focus is Mexico, the player has yet to make a decision.
He is a player who has big ambitions and his experiences at Arsenal this season have made him hungry for more.
Flores stated, “I want my Premier League debut before 19 years old.” This is my goal.
“I also want to make my official debut for Mexico’s national team and qualify for the World Cup Qatar.
“I idolize players such as Messi, Cairo, and Neymar who all did the same thing.”
“Looking up at players like them, I want to match their achievements because, like any player, my ultimate goal is to win accolades such as the Champions League or the Ballon d’Or.”
Flores was born in Ontario, Canada. He has been playing football since he could remember. The sport’s influence is deep in Flores’ family.
Ruben, his father was born in Mexico City. He played in the Mexican First Division between 1988 and 1990 for Atlante.
His mother was also a football player, and Tatiana and Silvana, his sisters, played for Chelsea and Tottenham, respectively.
He stated, “I started playing soccer at a young age, and my father was always surrounded by his football friends, so everyone loved to play football.”
“I began playing football at a young age and have never stopped loving it.” Football made me happy as a child.
“Barcelona has always been my favorite club. My mom told me that I don’t take my shirt off.
“When I was a little boy, my dad took us to Camp Nou to see a few of the games. Ronaldinho was a favorite of mine.
Flores’ earliest football memories include him and his sisters leaving school to hurry home and watching Champions League matches on TV.
They were raised to support Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona team and would crowd the front room to see their heroes play.
Flores was just one man.
He says, “I love Messi.” My sisters also love Iniesta and Sanchez. It’s so much fun to come home and watch such a great team play.
“I enjoyed those days watching Champions League. It’s a wonderful memory.”
Flores grew up in Canada and played soccer for many years at Guelph Soccer Academy where his father was the technical chief.
His big break came in 2015 when he went with his father to the Cayman Islands, where he was coaching the women’s national soccer team.
Flores also attended a football academy that was managed by an Ipswich Scout while they were there. He impressed Ipswich and was invited to try out the game.
After impressing during his trial in England, the young attacker was offered a spot at Ipswich Youth Academy. He and his family then decided to permanently move to England.
Flores recalls that the first year was very difficult. Although I did well, it was difficult for me as a Canadian child to adjust to the English culture and to interact with the English boys.
“But I kept playing football, and in my second season I put in a lot because my dad became a coach there.”
“So, on Saturdays and Sundays, I would be there all day and after school. It paid off for me in the end.
“It was really hard to get started, but then I discovered that there were many options.”
Premier League giants are in favor
Flores was being sought by clubs across England, with Liverpool and Manchester City keen to sign him.
Arsenal won the battle for the young striker in 2018 as they laid out a clear path to him joining the club’s first team.
He was inspired to join the Gunners’ Hare End academy and would spend his time looking at photos of Arsenal players.
He stated, “Every day you go to training and walk past those photos, that’s the ultimate goal, so every day do your best because it can pay off.”
It’s an inspiration. It’s inspiring to see the success stories of the players on the first team. If you continue to do what you are doing, you can also get promoted.
Flores quickly made a name for themselves at Arsenal.
In July 2020, he was offered his first professional contract and he joined London Colney’s main training facility.
After several eye-catching performances in the U18s, he was offered his chance in U23s. Since the beginning of the season, he has been a rising star in the U23s echelon.
Flores was able to flourish under the guidance of Kevin Bates, and Arteta invited him to join the first team for a few training sessions.
Flores stated that the first time she went to train with the team was when she was 16 or 17. It was very surreal to suddenly train alongside all the FIFA players that I had manipulated.
“Of course, you will get used to it. But at first, it is cool. Then you realize how great they are when you play with them.”
“Every time you go, you just want the manager and other players to be the best you can be and that’s exactly what I will continue doing.”
Given that Flores is also a Heiland youth academy graduate, it’s not surprising that Flores admires Smith-Rowe and Sarkar for their achievements over the years.
He has cultivated a close relationship and is grateful to them for their advice as he seeks to follow their lead and get into the Arsenal first team.
Sacha and Smith Rowe have been through the same thing as me,” he said. They get you and take you under their wing.
“Sacha was immediately in the first team, which was amazing. But for Smith-Rowe he was loaned twice, and it was a little difficult for him.”
“But it’s great to see him get the Arsenal number 10, shirt now, that’s a dream.
It shows that you can reap the rewards if you are patient and put in the work.”
Flores’ focus is now on closing this remarkable season as strong as possible.
He has had a glimpse of the future through his 2021-22 campaign, but he knows he still has much to do to reach some of his lofty goals.
Arsenal’s young striker is capable of doing anything, as evident by the past 12 months.