Al-Hilal should already be looking to bolster the defensive area of their midfield, as the club has been conceding a big amount of counters, that both have and might have been deadly for them. Just look at the goal conceded in the AFC Champions League group stage opening game against Uzbek side Navbahor, who only needed one counter-attack to hit the back of their net. This was partly or even mostly due to the lack of a defensive midfielder who could keep that area safe and track back and win the ball back.
The goal conceded by Mohamed Al-Owais in that game saw The Blues drop 2 points in a game that had been supposed to be easy for them. We have clarified in previous pieces how the midfield composed of only Rúben Neves and Sergej Milinković-Savić in the midfield, not only puts the team at risk in transitional phases but also limits the main qualities of the latter, who is tied up in deeper areas. With the season-ending injury of Neymar, and if they decide to take another foreigner in the winter transfer window, the defensive midfield market must be the priority. Let’s take a look at a potential solution to their defensive midfielder vacancy.
At the age of 22, and not even playing in Europe, André Trindade has already got several Brazil national call-ups, and that speaks volumes about the quality of the youngster. Plying his trade under Fernando Diniz for Brazil and Fluminense, André played a vital role in Fluminense’s first-ever Copa Libertadores victory, and he has already received interest from the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Fulham with a January departure being mooted. Whilst a move to Saudi Arabia may seem unlikely, we’ve seen plenty of promising youngsters decide to head to the Gulf country in the past few months such as Gabri Veiga, Jota and Musa Barrow — André certainly wouldn’t be the first or the last to do so.
Whilst Rúben Neves has impressed for Al-Hilal since arriving from Wolves, he has shown vulnerability in terms of defending counter-attacks and tracking back and winning the ball back — he needs a midfield destroyer alongside him. André can provide this. He’s like a younger version of Moroccan international Sofyan Amrabat in terms of his speed, tracking back, covering his area, and his ability to enter between the center-backs to form a back three.
Andre Trindade vs. Boca Juniors:
-69/73 passes completed
-2/2 successful dribbles completed
-7/9 ground duels won
-1 foul won
-1/1 aerial duel won
-1 shot on target
-1 interception@23Pankovski: https://t.co/NWSIPGVZFP pic.twitter.com/nSuvGwXYh3
— Breaking The Lines (@BTLvid) November 4, 2023
Amrabat has been followed by several Saudi clubs but opted to join Premier League giants Manchester United. Al-Hilal should definitely keep a close eye on this young version but with most probably bigger potential than Amrabat, because the latter was kind of a late bloomer. André averages 8.24 ball recoveries (85th percentile), 2.40 tackles made, 1.78 tackles won (89th percentile), 67.2% dribblers tackled (a whooping 99th percentile) and only 0.57 challenges lost (96th percentile), all per 90.
Offensively, he is a good carrier of ball, he makes 59.96 carries, with 306.44 yards as total carrying distance, and 179.84 yards as progressive carrying distance, all per game. Those numbers put him in the 99th, 98th and 99th percentile, respectively, which means that he is one of the best in the world in this specific metric, which is ball-carrying. His passing game is also on point, he does well, most notably for someone who plays in such a defensively-minded role.
He completes 74.44 passes out of 79.40 attempted with a success rate of 93.8% per 90. Which ranks in the 99th percentile in all of them. We are not talking about back and lateral short passing, that can anyone get great looking numbers in, his total passing distance per game is also one of the highest with 1236.96 yards and his progressive passing distance is set at 344.24 both per game which puts him in the 99th and 96th percentiles, respectively.
The weakness of André is the aerial duels, he is a bit poor in this aspect. He would definitely need the likes of Ali Al-Bulaiha and co to seamlessly rotate with him in opposing goal-kicks. André only wins 40.0% of his aerial duels, and he is not even someone who attempts to enter many aerial duels in the game.
André is only valued at 15 million euros in Transfermarkt, which would not make an expensive transfer for the club. Being only 22 years old might suggest that the player might prioritize playing in Europe, but gone are the days when the Saudi Professional League was only a destination for older players. Gabri Veiga (21) and Roger Ibañez (24) are genuine examples, as they have both joined the Saudi team in the latest transfer window, coming from Celta Vigo and AS Roma, respectively. Anyway, André might solve many issues for the Saudi capital club, as his representatives, staff, players, and supporters are all looking to fight for all competitions this season.
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Buda Mendes / Getty Images