WITH THE TRANSFER WINDOW CLOSELY APPROACHING ONCE MORE, IT’S TIME TO TAKE A DEEPER LOOK AT SOME OF THE TOP YOUNGSTERS LINKED WITH MOVES.
Why is there so much hype around the 21-year-old?
Highly-regarded as Portugal’s best striker since Pauleta, Andre Silva’s progression has rapidly increased over the last two years. Fernando Santos gave him his maiden senior call-up in September last year and he has scored five and created two assists in six international fixtures since.
Naturally, expectation comes with the pressure of being a professional, but his performances in Liga NOS have prompted scouts across Europe to take note. With 15 goals in 28 league matches this term, the striker is joint third top scorer in the league and will undoubtedly have plans to improve upon his tally before the season is over.
Very much a striker in the Alvaro Morata mould, his versatility allows him to play across the forward line – whether that is as a right-sided winger, a lone frontman or a secondary striker.
What’s the downside?
With a release clause of €60m inserted into his contract, it’s unlikely that any of Europe’s elite clubs are currently prepared to pay such a high price. Arsenal’s interest however, seems to have triggered a domino effect with many teams reportedly scouting his performances.
In terms of criticism, some have suggested he flatters to deceive and isn’t as convincing from goal-scoring opportunities as you might think. That’s fair enough, given he is only 21 and this is his first full campaign with the Porto senior side.
He’s been able to finish chances in the Champions League this season. Goals against Copenhagen and Leicester (four in total) in the group stages helped set up a last-16 tie with Juventus. Unfortunately, Alex Telles’ dismissal saw him sacrificed after half-an-hour in the home leg and a 2-0 deficit proved too difficult to overturn away from home.
Despite a premature end to Silva’s Champions League campaign, he will have taken plenty of positives from the experience.
Decision-making and composure in the final third, with consistency, are important for Silva to really step-up. The majority of his goals this term have stemmed from his impressive attack positioning and spatial awareness, where he’s able to sense potential chances and evade the attentions of his marker.
A fox-in-the-box, some might say. But his playing style is unorthodox for someone of his stature. Agile and quick, he relishes the challenge when taking defenders on in a one-on-one and given his versatility, it’s not a surprise Arsenal are keeping tabs on him.
After all, he represents the type of player that they could mould into a world-class star given the right coaching and attack-minded guidance.