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Francisco Trincão: A diamond in the rough for Barcelona?

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The youngster has bags of potential

Sporting Braga v Besiktas JK - Group K - UEFA Europa League Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

Amidst the COVID-19 doom and gloom, a piece of good news has persisted (at least for culés): the arrival of Francisco Trincão. The Portuguese winger was snapped up by Barça in the dying moments of the January transfer window for a fee of around €31 million. It was agreed that the 20-year old would remain at Braga for the remainder of the season, and would join Barça once the transfer window opened.

The transfer itself wasn’t greeted with much fanfare. If anything, many were surprised that the club had shelled out upwards of €25 million on a relative unknown. Yet, there were (and still are) reasons to be excited. In 15.7 90’s this season, he has scored eight goals and assisted five, leading the charge for Braga. Trincão has coupled his excellent dribbling ability with impressive end product. He is averaging an xG of 0.35 and an xA of 0.34 p90 alongside 2.91 shots, 1.95 key passes and 1.54 completed crosses.

In only his second senior season, Trincão has been able to fine-tune his game and filter out some of the raw elements that are intrinsic to youth. His game could still do with further fine-tuning, of course, but that is to be expected. Barça have invested in a prospect, not a player in his prime.

It is interesting to see how the Portuguese stacks up with other U-21 wingers. Trincão is a leader amongst his peers in terms of shooting. In all competitions, he averages 3.14 shots p90, alongside an xG of 0.35.

Trincão as a shooter, vs other u-21 wingers (@MartonBalla1).

As is evidenced by the chart above, no one really comes close. Trincão is also clear of his peers as a crosser/passer. He is the only player (amongst those compared) who records a cross success rate of greater than 50%.

In terms of crossing/passing. (@MartinBalla1)

That indicates a developing maturity in decision making and an understanding of space. At 20, that is a valuable asset to have. Many young wingers possess pace and power but lack the ability to pick the right pass at the right time is usually honed in with age. Trincão seems to be heading in the right direction, in that sense.

Trincão in terms of output. (@MartinBalla1)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, at this point, Trincão is also a leader in terms of output (i.e npG and assists p90).

Another interesting comparison is Trincão in his current Avatar vs Ousmane Dembélé at Dortmund.

As attackers. (@LaMasiaNostra)

Trincão has excellent end product. While he isn’t as prolific a dribbler as Ousmane was at Dortmund, he enjoys a high success rate.

As creators. (@LaMasiaNostra)

In terms of chance creation, Trincão is behind Dembélé, although not by much. His heatmap indicates he is more of an out and out winger, although he can still play across the front line. What is most interesting about Trincão is actually his understanding of time and space. He isn’t the fastest winger, but he moves into channels exceptionally well and has a great understanding of space exploitation. This could serve him very well at Barça. He could work well alongside a central Messi, acting as a runner and creating space.

In all, there is cause for optimism. Trincão is versatile and possesses a high game IQ. There is some cheer amidst the doom and gloom, after all.