Eduardo Camavinga is a left-footed midfielder who plays for Rennes (Ligue 1). Last season, Camavinga broke the record for the youngest player to be a starter in Europe’s top five leagues with just 16 years, 5 months and 21 days.
Some may have noticed him in the 2018/2019 season but even for the “untrained eye”, his dominance on the pitch in the last game between PSG and Rennes, in Parc des Princes, made pretty clear that this youngster is one to watch. After the game, Camavinga awakened the interest of big “sharks” like Arsenal, Tottenham, Man City, Barcelona, and Real Madrid.
Camavinga moved to Brittany when he was two years old and he is now in the process of gaining French nationality. Rennes’ scouts discovered him when he was playing for GL-Drapeau Fougeres, which are currently competing in the fifth division in France (Nacional 3).
This past January, he started training with the first team and it took him only three months to get his first minutes in Rennes’ first-team shirt. The talented Angola-born midfielder made his debut against Angers, completing seven senior-level appearances in the Ligue 1 (2018/2019). So far this season, Camavinga played every minute of every match played by Rennes in official competitions.
Style of Play
Camavinga plays mainly as a defensive or centre midfielder and that is because he can attack and defend pretty well as it will be demonstrated in this analysis. Last season, Rennes played in 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 and he shared the centre midfield with a teammate, occupying the centre-left side. During this season, we have seen Rennes play in 5-3-2 in every match with the young player assuming the defensive midfield position.
Taking a look at Camavinga’s defensive statistics from his 13 appearances in all competitions, it is visible that he thrives in many aspects.
Camavinga, in all competitions, averages 4.99 recoveries, 4.72 interceptions and 1.45 clearances per game. Just by taking a look at these numbers, we can see that he is an important part of Rennes defensive duties. Still, in some actions, he has less success rate. He only wins 33.3% of his aerial duels and only 37.5% of his sliding tackles.
In the current season, Camavinga has already recovered some interesting 20 balls in the first four Ligue 1 games. He is remarkable at pursuing and stealing the ball from his opponents, making use of his speed and tackling skills. As a result, this number is likely to grow. In the images below, we can see Camavinga pursuing Delort for nearly 35 meters in two seconds, recovering the ball and passing it to a teammate.
The Rennes midfielder does not give much space to his direct opponents and he is aggressive on the ball. He has a quick reaction to his team ball loss and is fast closing in on the ball as we can see in the images below. Consequently, Camavinga is likely to thrive when he disputes a divided ball with an adversary (winning 47.8 % of his defensive duels).
In addition to that, the young player has already an undeniable understanding of the game, which, when combined with his speed, it can lead him to anticipate his direct opponents and their team plays. As a result, Camavinga has already accomplished 21 interceptions in only four games in the Ligue 1 season. Regarding this statistic, (as we can see below) he doesn’t simply intercept the ball, 45.5% of the times he passes the ball to a teammate too. In only 20.5% of all the 44 events, he lost possession subsequently.
Camavinga is very composed when with the ball at his feet. He has excellent ball control and he is capable of doing short/medium and long passes efficiently (success rate of 74.6% and 55.6% respectively in 2019/20). Surprisingly, he plays with the calmness of an experienced player executing first touch passes when he has a player on his back, dribbling when he has space but always keeping his game very simple with few touches on the ball. He enjoys organizing his team’s build-up like a pendulum, shifting the ball from one side to the other.
Another of Camavinga’s numerous qualities is that he is always focused and connected with the game and after passing the ball he keeps constantly repositioning himself to be able to receive it again if needed. When playing in a more advanced position on the pitch, he can also do incisive runs behind the opposition’s backline as it can be seen in the image below.
Camavinga’s dribbling ability and ball control combined with his pace can turn him into a nightmare for the opponent teams (dribble success rate of 78.6% in 2019/20). He can accelerate with the ball close to his feet, throughout the opposition midfield, launching his team to the attack. This ability also makes him a very dangerous weapon in counter-attacks. When in a situation of 1vs1, he can do body feints and quickly change direction leaving his opponents behind.
Despite his easiness in passing through defenders, Camavinga does not hold the ball excessively. If he sees a teammate better positioned, he promptly passes the ball. Additionally, the young player unbalances the opposition’s team by doing one-two’s, taking advantage of his speed and acceleration efficiently. When combining one-two’s with his progressive runs with the ball, Camavinga is able to carry his team forward.
Camavinga’s progressive runs attract players to the ball, leaving spaces for his teammates to take advantage of. When pressured by his opponents he also has the ability to hide and protect the ball from them. For this reason, it gets hard to steal the ball from him, making him get fouled often.
Despite his young age, and due to his ability to defend and attack, he is a very influential player on his team. He can search for the ball near the centre-backs and start the attacking process by linking defence and midfield. He is also capable of receiving the ball in the centre of the pitch and make through passes to the final third. Actually, if we take a look at the graphic below with his territorial coverage, it is clear that he has actions all over the pitch, making him a very active participant on his team plays.
Even though Camavinga is playing as a defending midfielder, he can also have an impact near the opposition’s area. During the game against PSG, Camavinga made a very accurate lob pass/cross to Romain Del Castillo who finished it with a header scoring the winning goal. As can be seen in the picture below, the youngster received the ball, spotted the movement from his colleague and placed the ball on his head.
According to Wyscout, Camavinga is 1,82 meters high and weighs 68 kg. His agile and rangy legs help him tackle and control the ball. His body structure is strong enough to withstand a duel and even though he is not as tall as Paul Pogba, to whom he is already being compared to, he does a sufficient job in the aerial duels. Sometimes, these young players like Camavinga cannot bear to play at senior level for 90 minutes but this is not the case. In fact, the young player has the stamina to endure a full game and always in “heavy rotation”, making progressive runs, searching for the ball and recovering it from his opponents.
Nevertheless, Camavinga still has some aspects of his game that can be improved. He is somewhat addicted to his left foot and his game could step up if he played more with his right foot. Furthermore, he needs to pay attention to his sliding tackles which are not so efficient and many times faulty. Being him so solid tackling without going to the floor, some of the times, it is pointless for him to try sliding tackles.
To sum up, the future seems to be bright to the Rennes wonderkid. According to his coach Julien Stephan, adding up to his football skills he is also very ambitious and willing to learn with him and from the experienced players. After being challenged in May by the coach to claim a regular first-team place, it took him only three months and a few games to turn into a starting player.
Even though Eduardo Camavinga can still improve in some aspects of his game, with this mentality and football skills, he is on the right track to becoming a world-class player if he keeps growing at this pace.
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