The jam-packed 2020-21 season is officially underway after a mere four weeks of transition. With the ill-fated COVID-19 causing a whirlwind in the market, clubs have been ever so stringent. Under such outlandish circumstances, Tottenham has slipped in a loan signing under the radar amidst arrivals of many high profiles. Having looked at options like Luka Jović, Danny Ings, Arkadiusz Milik, and Haris Seferović to fill a significant void in the shape of a secondary striker, Jose Mourinho has finally got his wish fulfilled. Spurs have bagged the latter’s highly touted teammate Carlos Vinícius. Exactly how good is he? What does he bring to the table? Plenty of such questions loom about the new loanee, prompting us to make a tactical analysis.
The Brazillian has had his fair share of transfers over the past four years. North London is his eighth destination within the same time span. However, it is his exploits with Benfica in the beleaguered 19-20 season that caught the eyes of onlookers. In 46 appearances for the Portuguese side, Vinícius took part in 22 goals and seven assists. This analysis makes him seem moderately adequate right? However, he averaged a meagre 60 minutes per game, which brings us to the stat-line of higher value.
The 25-year-old averaged 0.25 assists and a hugely impressive 0.89 goals per 90, which is 0.28 higher than his xG rating per 90. He takes 3.25 shots in an average match, of which 2.5 are inside the penalty box, resulting in many good looks on goal. Albeit the impressive numbers, there is certainly room for improvement regarding his accuracy. While 1.33 of his shots are on target, the same number translates to those off-target without getting blocked. There is another glaring inadequacy in his game that we’ll cover later. For now, let’s go through some of his sequences last season to form a scout report of the forward.
Adept in tight spaces
Vinícius is a typical modern forward, capable of navigating his big frame through pockets of space. He absorbs the pressure of the defenders and uses his agility to jink past them, creating opportunities. The former picture demonstrates him receiving the ball with his back-to-goal, with three defenders surrounding him. He promptly executes a spin move to evade the oncoming player which leaves him open to make the pass.
Here is another instance where he is quicker to the ball than others, but still has a lot to do. He takes it in stride, creates a shooting angle with plenty around, and fizzes the ball in with exquisite precision. The quick decisions and skills he displays lead to the next attribute.
Devastating in counter attacks
The left-footed striker, despite his six-foot three-inch mould, is surprisingly agile and demonstrates an uncanny flair for his size. He also provides an added advantage of deputizing at left-wing with his blistering pace. Pressurizing the opposition up top, here he picks the pocket of the defender and is through on goal. Despite having to go around the goalkeeper, nobody can seem to catch up to him, ending in a composed finish.
The next progression follows Vinícius receiving the ball on top of the penalty box, right in front of a CB. His first touch already takes him ahead of the falling player, but the other defender tracks back to restrict the attack. That is the spot where the Brazillian shows spotless composure, taking the ball away with a sweet nutmeg and slotting it past the helpless GK.
Predator in the box
Albeit bursting through with sheer and raw pace, the centre-forward does not fail to utilise his advantage in terms of height and physique. Headers on the move can be easy to generate using forward momentum, but one off of a vertical leap usually lacks power. The Maranhao-native seems to defy such notions during a Benfica attack as he meets the cross without moving an inch, only to plant the ball away from the keeper’s reach. Such qualities are quintessential to thrive in the Premier League.
To be successful in England, one should not be afraid to show physicality. Correspondingly this motion of events displays Spurs’ new signing brush off a defender with his stature. The little subtleties between the two pictures at the top show how he overrides the defender’s challenges with a show of strength and consequently positions himself for an easy tap-in at the back-post. Mourinho has always adhered to tactics based on strong forwards, which could suit him well.
While these aspects demonstrate his strengths, one flaw that needs immediate rectification in his game is his hold-up play. He averages only 12.56 passes per 90, and his completion is at an even lower rate of 8.97. He is not a pace-merchant, but his style is about catching the opposition off guard with his well-timed runs. Carlos needs to round his game out to establish himself as a mainstay. Another cause of concern for him personally could be who would he replace in the Spurs lineup, with many front line options in the mix.
On the contrary, this has provided Mourinho with a problem he’d love to have. After suffering through the previous season with depleted squads, he is virtually spoilt for choices now. Despite playing few matches as the lone striker during his time in Portugal, Vinícius spent most of his time playing a complementing role to Chiquinho upfront. This gives the gaffer ways to experiment with him and England’s skipper. Rest assured, a slip-up from the frontmen is all the Brazillian needs to stamp his authority.
Despite having loads of room for improvement and potential playing-time problems, Vinícius is certainly one to watch in the upcoming years. If Mourinho demands more improvement from the Brazillian, there is always the option of sending him out on loan as well.
Moreover, with four competitions to battle through and an eye on a return to UEFA Champions League, he could very well play his part in their campaign. Boom or bust, this is one signing you don’t want to step over.