Jude Bellingham has dominated La Liga so much that no other player has been given as much attention. However, there have been other players who have put in commendable performances so far for their respective teams. While Real Madrid are top of the table after winning the El Clasico, the team trailing them in second place are Girona. Before the season started, few would have expected a team that finished tenth in the previous season to be anywhere near the top of the table. However, with some smart transfers, the club have found their mojo. One surprising fact, though, is their best-performing transfer is a 19-year-old called Savio.
Signed from Ligue 2 club Troyes, Savio has been by far the most dangerous player in the attacking third. The teenager is one of the best talents to come out of Atletico Mineiro’s youth academy. Touted as one of the best talents in Brazil, he caught the eyes of City Football Group, who signed him for €6.5 million.
Since then, he has seen two loan spells, but this season, he has finally started to fulfill his huge potential.
Born in Sao Mateus municipality, Espirito Santo, Savio started his career playing for local clubs. However, his first break came in 2016 when he was accepted into the youth academy of Atletico Mineiro. He was only 11, so his mother moved in with him as the club was 250 miles from his hometown.
He rose quickly through the ranks, and this earned a place in Brazil’s under-15s squad for the 2019 Copa America. And the youngster didn’t disappoint in his first-ever international tournament, becoming the joint-top scorer for Brazil as they won their fifth title.
It was this tournament where the scouting networks from across the Atlantic started to take notice. City Football Group (CFG), which runs a host of football clubs, ultimately won the race to sign him.
He was assigned to CFG’s French-owned club Troyes. Within a month of joining, Savio was loaned to Eredivisie side PSV. However, he was far down the pecking order at the club and made only six appearances, playing a total of 96 minutes.
Savio returned to Troyes before going on loan again to Girona. While he was only 19, Savio needed a good season under his belt to lay the foundation of a strong career. Eleven games in, and he has done precisely that.
Savio has scored three goals and provided four assists, the most goal contributions by any player on the team. His Expected Threat (xT) rating is 1.35, the most on the Girona team. His xT from carries is 0.79 which is the fourth-best in the entire league.
Regarding Expected Offensive Value Added (xOVA), he is the third-best in the league with a rating of 3.64. Savio also has completed 26 successful dribbles, the second-most in the league.
Savio style of play
Savio is a perfect product of Jogo Bonito, evident from his gameplay. According to fbref, Savio averages 9.98 progressive passes, among the top one percentile of midfielders. One of the reasons why he is highly rated is his ability to move the ball forward at any cost. He does not shy away from attempting a difficult pass or run.
Even if he does lose the ball, he does not shy away from attempting again, which is the reason behind his high numbers in the attacking third. Savio also prefers to use the width of the pitch to stretch the opposition’s defence, which usually leaves him one-on-one with the full backs—from there, using his trickery and pace to get past his opponent.
22 – There were 22 passes in the build up to Sávio’s goal against Almeria, equalling the longest passing sequence leading to a Girona goal in LaLiga ever (22, Cristhian Stuani v Espanyol in November 2018). Patience. pic.twitter.com/BuehHYWEjs
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 23, 2023
On top of that, he is also blessed with brilliant shooting ability, as was evident by his goal against Granada. Despite this, he does have his weaknesses. We must remember that he is far from a finished product. Often, he tries to do everything by himself, which leads to the team losing possession.
His passing numbers also need a lot of improvement, especially in the attacking third. When playing against a compact defence, his dribbling skills might not be as effective. However, he has ample time to improve and become a future star for his club and the Selecao.
It is still too early to make any bold prediction on Savio’s future, but he does possess all the traits to become a creative force in the attack. However, we only have a sample size of 11 games, and he needs to perform at this rate for the entire season to interest any top clubs. Even then, he will need to be consistent for the next two to three seasons to earn such a move.
As he is still part of the City Football Group, a move to English and European champions Manchester City could materialise in the future. For now, though, helping Girona finish in the top six or top four would be a brilliant way to announce his arrival as the next big star.
This could also improve his prospects for playing for the Brazilian national team, where he will partner with the likes of Vonivius Jr, Bruno Guimaraes, Rodrygo, and many others. Who knows, it could be him who could play a massive role in making Selecao a six-time world champion.