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New gem from Brazil

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There are some things certain in life; death, taxes and a host of new prodigies emerging in the Brazilian league every year. Despite not having huge financial resources, the South American nation still produces talented wonderkids, many of whom go on to become stars of the future game. The country has recently produced the talented Vinicus Jr, and teenage star Endrick Felipe. Felipe’s teammate Luis Guilherme and Flamengo’s creative genius Matheus Franca are others to come out of the national league set-up.

Franca, who is just 18 years old, is a product of Flamengo’s incredible youth system that has produced defensive midfielder Joao Gomes and striker Gabriel Barbosa. The attacking midfielder is also another player who has been watched by the scouts of Real Madrid, who, in recent years, have identified several gems from Brazil.

Franca has, at 18 years become an integral part of Flamengo’s team and was one of the few positives in an otherwise underwhelming season for the club. 

But who is Matheus Franca, and how good is he?

Playing career so far 

Matheus Franca de Oliveira was born on April 1, 2004, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and like millions of his countrymen showed an interest in football from a young age. And it was one of the reasons he joined Flamengo, one of the biggest clubs in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil aged 13.

His talent was there for all to see from a young age as he progressed rapidly through various age groups. After Vincius Jr was sold to Real Madrid, he was touted as the next star, and Franca has proven good on his talent. 

However, his rise at the club came at a time when the club was hiring, and firing managers left, right and centre. Franca has already played under seven managers since making his debut which came under Jorge Jesus against Santos on July 12, 2021. He would make one more appearance in the league against Atletico Clube Goianiense.

The following season he would play a more critical part in the team, making 17 appearances as the team finished fifth in the league. 

Matheus Franca stats 

In his first senior season with the club, Franca played a total of 24 minutes scoring no goals and providing no assists, so we only have the 2022 season to look for stats. However, even in that solitary season, Franca has proven to be a creative genius with a high ceiling.

The teenagers made 17 appearances in the league, scoring four goals and playing 668 minutes. While this is a good enough stat for any player in their debut season, these four goals are more impressive because three of those came when Flamengo either were trailing the match or were tied with the opposition. And Franca’s goals won them a total of five points. 

In addition, he also played in the Taca Guanabara, where he scored one goal in three appearances. 

He would also be given his debut in the Copa Libertadores, where he scored one goal against Deportes Tolima in the round of 16. He also played in the famous under-20 tournament Copinha playing two matches, scoring two goals and providing three assists. 

Matheus Franca scout report

Well, one thing usually seen in talented Brazilian players, especially those playing in the attack, is their impeccable dribbling skills and quick foot movement. Matheus Franca has those in spades, but his brilliance comes from something that is usually expected from a far more mature player in his role.

At such a young age, France relies more on his intelligence, using his pace at just the right moment to run behind the opposition’s backline. He uses that to play incredible passes through balls and move the ball forward quickly.

This means that he is a player who is far more dangerous passing the ball than dribbling, which makes him such a menace to the opposition. However, Franca is as dangerous with the ball as without it.

As with every attacking midfielder, Franca loves to use the inside channel. He loves to go to the left wing before cutting inside, which puts the ball on his favoured right foot. Even without the ball, he loves to go to the wings and takes an opposition defender out of position, leaving space for his teammates to exploit.

He completed 4.62 progressive passes per 90 minutes, putting him among the top one percentile of attacking midfielders and wingers. He is equally good at putting crosses into the box and putting passes in the final third. In addition, he also completes 27.69 carries per 90 minutes, among the top two percentile of attacking midfielders and wingers.

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What makes him special 

Matheus Franca is a rare talent in the Brazilian football system. While almost all players in his position depend on dribbling and speed to get past their opponents, Franca uses passing and intelligence to achieve the same objectives.

This is a skill that even the best young players take time to develop. Franca is more of a Kevin de Bruyne and, at the same time, has the dribbling and ball-carrying skills of his peers. So, any team with Franca in their ranks gets a complete midfielder who is just 18, which means he could be one of the world’s best by the time he reaches his peak.

Matheus Franca potential and transfer news 

Matheus Franca’s performances at the club have already alerted top clubs across the Atlantic who are looking to sign him up. And the club that has shown the most interest is Premier League club Newcastle United.

The club already added a talented Brazilian in Bruno Guimaraes last year. So they are already reaping the rewards as they find themselves with a high chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

Flamengo are holding firm with Flamengo vice-president Marcos Braz stating that the wunderkind is not for sale. However, if he continues delivering these performances, expect a European transfer for him very soon.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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