Note: this player report is the extended version of this report.
- Nationality: Brazilian
- Date of birth: 30/03/2000
- Age: 20
- Club: FC Famalicão
- Career: FC Porto (Y), Atlético Madrid (Y), FC São Paulo (Y), Atlético Madrid (Y), Atlético Madrid, FC Famalicão
- Position: defensive midfielder
- Secondary position: central midfielder
- Preferred foot: right
Gustavo Assunção is a Brazilian defensive midfielder who has been the most consistent player for FC Famalicão in the 2019/20 season, despite this season being his first full season playing at a senior level. He has been fundamental to the success of the Famalicenses in their first season back in the Liga NOS after an absence of 25 years and it is not strange that Benfica, FC Porto and OGC Nice reportedly are interested, with the latter being linked the most with the 20-year-old.
Famalicão play in a 4-1-4-1 formation and like to play a medium-high defensive line, trying to not allow the opposition to come close to Famalicão’s goal. When they lose possession, they often try to get into possession again to eventually put pressure on the opposition and keeping the defensive structure in mind. In possession, they like to build-up patiently but they sometimes choose for a more direct approach as well.
In this system, Gustavo Assunção’s role is crucial. The 20-year-old is very important in the first phase of the build-up. There are two situations whenever Famalicão are in possession on their own half. The first one is that Gustavo Assunção drops deep to play as the third central defender to support the build-up, which helps to create a 3v2 situation often as a lot of Portuguese teams play in a 4-4-2 formation out of possession.
The second situation is that Gustavo Assunção tries to get into space between the attacking and midfield line to help Famalicão progress the ball further up the pitch. Also, this helps Famalicão to pace the build-up. The Brazilian moves between the lines smoothly from left to right or right to left depending on where the ball is. He is always in space and can often receive the ball in space.
Before Assunção receives the ball, he makes sure that he checks his shoulders to see if he is being put under pressure and where his teammates are. The 20-year-old makes the right choice very often and almost never gets his pass wrong on his own half. When he is being put under pressure, he either plays a first touch pass to one of the central defenders or he plays a first touch pass forward to one of the midfielders.
Also, he sometimes turns his opponent instead of playing a first touch pass when he is certain that his opponent moves the other way. Checking his shoulders really helps him in these situations and that is why he does not lose the ball often on his own half. On the ball, his acceleration is good. He always makes sure that he runs towards space and not towards busy areas. When he made a run on the ball, he likes to play it forward to one of the attackers.
When Assunção receives the ball on his own half and assesses that he is not being put under pressure, he always makes sure that he touches the ball forward and that he makes one or two touches before playing a pass with power to one of the two central midfielders, or a longer pass to one of the wingers. He sporadically plays a long pass towards the striker. His passes with power are very accurate and are often being played in a small gap between two or more opponents.
Gustavo Assunção is able to pace the build-up by doing this and it can be said that he is very important, as mentioned before, for Famalicão in the build-up. He always chooses the right moments to play a forward pass and helps Famalicão progress to the opposition half by either playing a powerful pass into midfield or by using his good dribbling ability and acceleration on the ball to get past his direct opponent.
When Famalicão are in possession on the opposition half and are in control of the ball, Gustavo Assunção does exactly the same as what he does on his own half. He either drops deeper to support the build-up or he tries to get into space by moving between the lines smoothly to get into possession and to be able to progress the ball further up the pitch. His excellent first touch and awareness is vital in these situations.
Especially when Famalicão are in possession on the opposition half and Gustavo Assunção moves smoothly between the lines to get into space, the first touch of Assunção is very important. He gets his first touch right a lot of times and he shows very good awareness to move the right way mostly. However, he often chooses to play the pass backwards to one of the central defenders or sideways to one of the full-backs.
Also, when he gets into possession unexpectedly and he does not have the time to check his shoulders, his handling speed sometimes is slightly too low and this can lead to the loss of possession sometimes. This does not happen too often though. Overall, the positioning of Gustavo Assunção when Famalicão are in possession is excellent. Also, his decision-making in the build-up is very good.
Gustavo Assunção’s technique is good and he controls the ball very well. His passing is very accurate and he likes to pass it with power to be able to pass it between two or more opponents without losing possession. He has good on the ball acceleration and this helps him with his dribbling ability, which is decent as he makes the good decision often by moving towards space rather than moving towards a busy area.
The Brazilian defensive midfielder does not create many chances for Famalicão, but that is not his role. He supports other players of Famalicão to create chances and provides them with very accurate passes which get those players into space. Also, he makes sure that the build-up is good and plays a fundamental part in Famalicão’s build-up.
When Famalicão lose the ball in the final third, they sometimes put pressure on their opponent immediately. However, sometimes they drop back to recover the defensive structure. They always keep the medium-high defensive line intact and they make sure that the lines keep close to each other. Gustavo Assunção’s main position in defence is between the defensive and midfield line.
When Famalicão choose to put pressure on the opposition immediately, Gustavo Assunção does this as well and he is very aggressive in putting pressure on the opponent. However, he sometimes makes the wrong choice when he does this and can be too late at times. Assunção needs to improve his timing of putting pressure on the opponents and this sometimes leads to dangerous situations for Famalicão.
It can be said sometimes that the defensive line should be anticipating a bit better to play higher up the pitch to cover the space that is left open by Assunção when this happens. Assunção reads the game very well and spots where the pass is going before it is being played, but he sometimes needs to be more passive and not react to the pass that is being played.
Also, his aggressiveness in the duels has led to nine yellow cards in this season. Gustavo Assunção likes to close down the opponents in every single situation and this also leads to a lot of interceptions and recoveries of possession. He often blocks passes and shots. The Brazilian is very determined and uses his good acceleration to close down the opponents quickly.
During the times that the opposition are in possession on their own half, Gustavo Assunção plays in the center between the defensive and midfield line and he moves slightly to the side where the ball goes. He prevents that the ball can be played towards the attacking midfielder or striker and if the opposition try to break lines with their passing (and find the attacking midfielder or striker), Assunção is aggressive in the duels and recovers possession quickly.
In these situations, he reads the game very well and anticipates well to spot the pass that is being played. He manages to intercept these passes often and recovers possession a lot on his own half. When the opponents are in possession in the final third, Gustavo Assunção mostly covers the run of the oppositions attacking midfielder into the box and manages to clear the ball often.
In general, in defence, he often shows good anticipation and he manages to read the game well. His aggressiveness in the duels help him a lot to recover possession and this makes him an important player for Famalicão when they want to recover possession quickly. However, especially on the opposition half, he sometimes chooses the wrong moments to put pressure on the opponents which can lead to dangerous situations in front of goal for Famalicão.
Gustavo Assunção is only 1.78m which means that he is not the tallest and he loses a lot of aerial duels. However, his aggressiveness in the duels helps to recover possession and he is able to hold off his opponent when he is dribbling. He is agile and able to turn his opponent very well. When he turns his opponent, he has good on the ball acceleration. He can keep his balance well and has good stamina. It seems like Gustavo Assunção is very determined and his work-rate is very high.
To conclude, Gustavo Assunção has been one of the best players of Famalicão this season and is ready to play at a higher level. For him, it would be good to play at a higher level, which means that he will need to adjust to a higher intensity league. This will help him in improving his already good qualities. Ligue 1 would be perfect for him and I would be more than happy to see him play for an ambitious side like OGC Nice.