‘Pace’ and ‘flair’ seem to be the most prominent words for Manchester United right now, considering their lack of creativity and ability to take the required risk. And these qualities are those which play a massive part in helping a team create or score a goal, especially in the modern day. But, Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United are deficient in them, big time.
Recruitments in January are in dire needs, without any shadow of doubt and United continue to get linked with players, young or the experienced. But, the latest one to have drawn links with the Red Devils is Benfica’s 19-year-old winger Goncalo Guedes. But, is the Portuguese starlet what United need?
The 19-year-old predominantly plays on the right of the park, and occasionally on the left. He has scored four times this season, racking up six assists in a total of 21 games for Rui Vitoria’s side. A product of the Benfica youth setup, Guedes, before being promoted to the senior side last season. And despite of being just 19, the starlet has already represented the Portugal National side twice. Guedes is viewed as Portugal’s heir to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Guedes’ off the ball movement and his ability to find the back of the net with the help of it stands out. He’s someone who is very direct in sneaking in behind opposition defenders, making him a threat to watch when defending. Guedes has scored many goals by making runs in behind, unseen to find the back of the net.
Another thing that he excels in is- determination. Despite of being slightly wiry and lanky in stature, Guedes knows how to shrug them. It’s all down to getting stuck in and committing himself completely to winning balls back and taking it away from the opposition.
He’s got a very good first touch, which he can use to take the ball away from a defender and although, he isn’t too pacy or doesn’t have blistering pace, but his balance and ball control is impressive. In the video compilation, you can well see how he quite often makes use of a deft touch to go past a player and then take the defense on.
He can also create chances for his teammates. Guedes has created 10 goal scoring chances this term in the champions league. To put this into context, only Juan Mata (14) has created more for the Red Devils in the Champions League.
Another quality that he possesses to a commendable extent is finishing- which is very good. He can find the net from the toughest of positions, showing how efficient the lad is in front of goal and why he possesses an eye for a goal. In the early part of the video package, you will witness him pull off some impressive finishes.
United need someone who can create spaces for his team-mates, much like how Thierry Henry highlighted in his analysis and comparison of Louis van Gaal and Pep Guardiola’s system at Barcelona. He also reflects on verticality and directness, the ability t run off the ball to make sure that the other players in the team are left with space to work with. Guedes is someone who will do this well. As mentioned earlier, the teenager is adept in running in behind and making runs off the ball, he can come in handy when the opposition tend to adhere to an all out defense style.
Not an upgrade to either Martial or Lingard, Guedes isn’t a finished product as of now, but even Martial wasn’t one when he came bouncing onto the scene. He needs to bulk up a lot and add some pace to his armory. Being a winger, one can have everything but it’s pace that is very important and Guedes needs to work on that too.