Giovani – Player Report

Giovani Henrique Amorim da Silva, in this article referred to as Giovani, is a Brazilian right-winger playing for Palmeiras. The 18-year-old (01-01-2004) was born in Itaquaquecetuba. He was one of the most important players for Palmeiras under 20 in their Copinha 2022 triumph, impressing with his explosive acceleration, good dribbling ability and tactical intelligence. Giovani scored four goals and assisted three goals in eight Copinha matches. He has already played fourteen matches for the first team of Palmeiras, scoring once and assisting once too. For the under 17’s, he scored fourteen goals in thirteen matches in 2020. He made his debut for the under 20’s in that year too. In 2021, he scored seven goals for Palmeiras under 20 in sixteen matches. The winger is 1,82m tall and has a lean build.

Ajax is reportedly very interested in Giovani and I am going to discuss in this player report if he is good enough for Ajax and if he suits the playing style of the club from Amsterdam. First, I will discuss which qualities an Ajax winger needs to possess, I’ll take Antony as a benchmark as both Antony and Giovani are right-wingers. Antony is good in positional play, he is good at taking on opponents, he likes to put in dangerous crosses from deep, he likes to cut inside onto his stronger left foot, he is good at putting pressure on the opponent and works hard in the defensive area, he exploits his explosive acceleration to make runs into the box sometimes and he has good shooting ability from the edge of the box.

Palmeiras (under 20) play in a very fluid 4-3-3, which often looks like a 4-4-2 as attacking midfielder Gabriel Silva often plays next to Endrick or Vitinho. They are comfortable playing in several playing styles. However, their main style is a high press, direct style, in which they try to find their attackers behind the defensive line of the opponent. All attacking players of Palmeiras have a good eye for space and like to make runs in behind. With this playing style, they dominated every match in the Copinha and often were very overwhelming for their opponent, scoring early on in the match and cruising to victory after.

Giovani, as mentioned before, always played as the right-winger for this Palmeiras side. His first strength is his role in the positional play of Palmeiras under 20. The winger likes to drop deep when Palmeiras are building out from the back. By doing this he usually drags his direct opponent with him which opens up space for right-back Gustavo Garcia to run into. The right-back did not always make use of this, but one can only assume that players like Noussair Mazraoui and Devyne Rensch would make use of this. This situation will always lead to either space behind the opponent’s left-back or space for Giovani to carry the ball forward.

When Palmeiras under 20 progress further up the pitch, Giovani either sticks close to the sideline or operates in the half-space. In the situations in which Giovani sticks close to the sideline, he sometimes carries the ball forward down the line, awaiting the moment that his opponent makes a tackle. Giovani always cuts back to his left foot in this situation and either carries on his dribble or he passes it back to one of the central midfielders or defenders. This is where he shows a lot of similarities to both Steven Berghuis and Antony. Both Ajax right-wingers do this as well when playing on the wing. Giovani rarely tries to get past his opponent on the outside.

Like Antony and Steven Berghuis, Giovani sometimes tries to find his teammates in the box with an inswinging cross from a deeper area. Giovani has a very good kicking technique, and even though his crosses on his stronger left foot are quite inconsistent, he has the potential to become as dangerous with these crosses as Antony within 1,5 years. I can only assume that he will train on this a lot if he makes a transfer to Ajax, as it’s part of Ajax’s playing style under the stewardship of Erik Ten Hag. Giovani’s crosses from this area are often too high and they float too much. Antony’s crosses are much lower and faster.

Here is one of his good inswinging crosses from a deep area:

In other situations, Giovani carries the ball inside when receiving the ball while sticking close to the sideline. He exploits his explosive acceleration, good close control and changes of directions to get past his opponents when carrying the ball inside. Giovani likes to go for the one-two with Endrick when he is in that position. He always passes the ball with the outside of his boot and continues his run either into the box or more centrally. His pass into the striker, when not being played with the outside of his boot, can sometimes be inaccurate. This happened in his match with the first team of Palmeiras against Defensa y Justicia, in which he failed to make an impact in the 25 minutes he played.

However, some of the chances Giovani had this Copinha were created through one-twos with either Endrick or Gabriel Silva. Just look at the video down below, in which Giovani nearly scores the 4-0 for Palmeiras against Santos. Palmeiras are on the counter and Giovani carries the ball diagonally towards the edge of the box. Endrick positions himself well, Giovani plays the pass into the 15-year-old Brazilian and the 18-year-old continues his run. He receives the ball and has a 1v1 chance with Santos’s goalkeeper. It must be said that it is very crowded near the box of the Ajax opponents, as the opponents of Ajax usually sit deep and only defend, so Giovani will have less space to play simple one-two’s like this. I think that he will still create many chances for himself at Ajax by doing this, especially if he links up with someone like Dusan Tadic who understands what run he makes.

Furthermore, Giovani is a player who excels at finding and recognizing space. The right-winger who turned 18 in January, has great speed over a long distance and has an explosive acceleration in the first meters, both off and on the ball. There are two situations in which he combines his spatial awareness and speed. In the first situation, he sees that the São Paulo defender gets dragged out wide and that Palmeiras stay in possession. He uses his acceleration to get away from his marker and runs into space and receives the ball in the end. In the second situation, he uses his attacking vision in the box, but also his acceleration once again to get away from his marker and nearly score the goal. However, due to an unfortunate bounce just before he hits the ball he misses the chance in front of an open goal. Giovani has good movement in the box and always manages to get into good areas. Especially with Tadic’s vision on the left-wing, I think Giovani could get into scoring position often.

Giovani, like Antony, is a player who is very dangerous on the counter-attack. The Brazilian winger still has good close control over the ball when sprinting at full speed and can change directions quickly. In crowded areas, Giovani’s dribbling is also good for his age, but a little bit inconsistent still. This is mostly when he carries the ball down the line. He sometimes gets dispossessed in this area as his timing of cutting back to his left foot is not always optimal. In these situations his opponent tackles him and he is not on time to cut back to his left foot. However, in some of these situations the ball goes out for a Palmeiras throw-in. His dribbling when cutting inside is less inconsistent. Because he is so fast and has good close control, it is hard to defend him when he runs towards his opponent at full speed. When he is near the goal, he has a very direct playing style and has various ways of creating chances, as already mentioned before. His composure in front of the goal is remarkable for an 18-year-old Brazilian. At youth level he has already scored a lot of goals, while he has scored one goal for the first-team of Palmeiras in the Brazilian Serie A.

Like Antony (in his time at São Paulo), Giovani’s shooting from distance is still inconsistent. He does not always strike the ball well, but when he does he always hits at least the target. Giovani usually tries to curl the ball into the far corner and rarely goes for a shot into the near corner when shooting from distance. It is sometimes a bit too obvious that Giovani wants to go for the far corner, which especially against world-class goalkeepers won’t work. Giovanni’s 1v1 finishing is also slightly inconsistent. He is composed in front of goal with both his left and right foot, but sometimes shoots the ball straight at the goalkeeper and does not really pick out a corner in the 1v1. This is something he can improve on, but he has all the characteristics to become a good finisher and his shots from distance will be more consistent over time as well.

Here you can see his first goal for the first team of Palmeiras, in which you can see a lot of similarities to some of Antony’s, Neres’s and even Bertrand Traoré’s goals for Ajax.

Two out of his three assists for Palmeiras under 20 came from a dead ball situation. One was from a corner from the left, in which he put in a cross with his left foot towards the first post which was headed in by his teammate. The second situation was from a free-kick from very deep. His free-kick was comparable with Berghuis’s free-kick against PSV which nearly went in. However, in the Palmeiras match, the ball was headed into the goal and in the Ajax match, Alvarez missed the ball. His (through) passing is one of the main aspects that Giovani can improve in. Giovani always looks over the ball to assess his options, which he does really well. However, his over the top through passing is still quite inconsistent. Sometimes he puts too much power on his through passes, but in terms of direction, his through passing usually has the right direction.

I think another aspect in which there is room for improvement is the way he puts pressure. At Palmeiras under 20, he does well to very aggressively put pressure on his opponent as that was Palmeiras’s playing style, but I think he will need time to adapt to how Ajax put pressure on their opponent. Considering the fact that he seems very determined, I think that it will not take long before he understands and executes it perfectly. In the example below you can see that he shows determination and aggressiveness in that duel before scoring the opening goal for Palmeiras under 20 in the semi-final against São Paulo under 20.

Future projection:

I think that Giovani is the perfect long-term replacement of Antony at Ajax because he shows a lot of similarities to the former São Paulo player. Giovani needs to work on his consistency in his inswinging crosses with his left foot, his short passing, through passing and shooting from distance. I also think he will need some time to adapt to Ajax’s playing style both out and in possession. I am confident that Giovani could have an impact in the first team of Ajax coming from the bench, but he needs time and I hope that he will get time to adapt to Amsterdam. However, Ajax first needs to sign him of course.

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