La Liga

Promoting Morón Proves Smart Move For Betis

 • by Edward Stratmann
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Having spent the vast majority of his career plying his trade in the Spanish third and fourth divisions, Loren Morón‘s introduction to La Liga with Real Betis has been nothing short of spectacular.

Born in Marbella, Morón would take his first steps into the beautiful game – after initially dreaming of becoming a bullfighter as a boy – by joining Peña Los Compadres before furthering his development at UD Marbella and CD Vázquez Cultural.

Aged 17 he got his first taste of senior football came when he joined Tercera division (fourth division) side, Unión Estepona CF, going onto make his debut in September 2012.

His first senior goal came a few weeks later in his side’s 4-1 win over Vélez CF. But by January, he switched back to Marbella, also in the fourth tier. Not as a youth prospect, this time, but as a first teamer.

Despite helping Marbella to promotion into the third division, a loan back to the fourth tier followed with the aforementioned Vélez. Fourteen goals in just 21 matches ensured Morón drew the attentions of Real Betis scouts who quickly snapped him up in January of 2015, after just six months with Vélez.

For the boy that used to support Betis but whose father previously played for their fierce rivals in Sevilla, signing for Los Verdiblancos represented the fulfilling of his ambitions.

Deemed not ready or experienced enough for the first team, Morón had to settle for grafting in the reserves, immediately going to work in the tough regionalised Segunda División B (third division). Despite toiling away with fierce dedication and commitment, things weren’t always easy and competing with Álex Alegría, who burst onto the scene with Betis last term, ensured stiff competition.

Morón eventually stamped his mark, however, finishing as as top scorer as Betis’ B side were relegated. Like a boomerang, he was back in the fourth division again. The forward would have been forgiven for wondering if he was destined never to rise any higher. To his credit, though, he kept plugging away and managed another impressive return of 15 goals, as he propelled the second string back into the Segunda B.

Playing alongside many other of Betis’ gifted youngsters in the form of Rafa Navarro, Fabián Ruiz, Junior Firpo and even Dani Ceballos, now at Real MadridMorón featured in the International Champions Cup ahead of the 2017/18 season but knew, aged 23, it was now or never for his first-team aspirations.

When the new campaign began Morón still found himself in the B team. His sensational form thereafter grabbed the attention of the newly installed Betis manager, Quique Setién, though. By the time February 2018 had rolled around, Morón had rattled in 17 goals in just 23 matches.

With Betis struggling with injuries in attacking areas to Antonio Sanabria and Joel Campbell, Setién called up the now 24-year-old to supplement his other forward options in Sergio León and Rubén Castro. Promoting him didn’t come without risk, however, as his age meant he couldn’t be demoted back to the B Team.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Handed his long awaited La Liga debut for the clash with high flying Villarreal, who were on a three-match winning streak in the league that included wins over Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, he vindicated his coach’s decision. What followed was a wonderful, match-winning brace.

Rewarded with another start, this time against a struggling Deportivo La Coruña team who had Dutch icon Clarence Seedorf in their dugout for the first time, Morón stole the show once more, securing a crucial 1-0 victory for Setién’s men with a cunning finish.

He couldn’t inspire Los Verderones to a win in their next fixture against reigning Spanish and European champions Real Madrid, however with Betis gallantly going down 5-3 in a thrilling encounter.

Speaking to Marca about his rise into the limelight, Morón said: “It’s a dream everything I’m living.”

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“Being in the best league in the world for a footballer who was in Segunda B two weeks ago and did not know that this opportunity could come to him so soon is a dream. Everything came suddenly, but I’m welcoming it, always with my feet on the ground, but I’m very happy.

“Little by little I’m feeling better, I’m adapting more. There is a fairly significant jump from Segunda B to the first division from quality, needing to think faster, everything really,” he said.

While it’s still early days for the man who idolised Spanish legend Raul as a junior, there’s been much to admire about his performances aside from his obvious finishing skills and goalscoring prowess.

To start with, his instinctive movement into the box, well timed runs in behind and crafty dropping movements have ensured he offers his team-mates excellent options to progress attacks.

Moreover, the technically sound Morón has shown he can hold the ball up – aided by his hulking strength – and ability to combine intricately in tight spaces. He puts his imposing 6ft 2ins frame to great use, too, whenever competing in aerial duels, protecting the ball and in his robust defensive exertions.

So pleased with their new sensation, Betis recently extended his contract to 2021 and inserted a €25million release clause, confirming his status as an integral member of Setién’s squad.

It has taken Morón time to get to where he wants to be, via every knock-back, wrong-turning and dead end. But it’s not about where you’ve come from; it’s where you’re going that counts.

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