Position(s): AM, CM, RW, RM, DM
Preferred Foot: Right
Strengths: stamina, versatility, dribbling, technical ability, distance shooting, runs in the box
Areas for development: physical strength, decision-making, consistency
After earning an immediate return to Brazil’s top-flight, Grêmio have enjoyed an impressive Brasileirão campaign and currently sit third in the table at the time of writing. One player who has proven vital in their stellar start under Renato Gaúcho is 23-year-old midfielder Bitello.
Bitello is a player who has great dribbling ability in tight spaces with the flair to fool opponents. He thrives in and around the box either creating chances or arriving in the box to finish attacks. A lot of his goals emerged from his runs into space in the box timed well where he calmly finishes whether it’s his right foot, left, or a header.
The Brasileirão is back for another season, with the likes of Fluminense, Internacional and Corinthians seeking to end their title droughts, and Palmeiras looking to repeat their title.
— Breaking The Lines (@BTLvid) April 18, 2023
The Brazilian is a great striker of the ball, he can shoot accurately from distance off both feet to great effect. Importantly though, he has a variety of different types of shots. The goals he scored from outside the box have been with the inside of the foot, or through the laces. Bitello has 1.99 shots per 90 which shows he loves to frequently shoot which accredits his goal output.
The Grêmio midfielder has very rangy legs and is very quick so he’s often the primary ball-carrier to progress play in the attacking transition on the counter-attack. He loves to drive into the space ahead to advance to the attacking phase, boasting 2.55 progressive carries per 90. Bitello has top athleticism not just due to his speed, but his stamina and work-rate as well. He manages to maintain his high-energy style throughout games and the season.
Despite recently playing RW/RM for Grêmio, he previously played as a box-to-box midfielder, and this shows in his game. He has a real aggression to hustle and win the ball back off opposing attackers. Bitello has 1.91 tackles and 1.12 interceptions per 90, which aren’t the highest numbers but it’s important to consider that he isn’t the primary defensive midfielder.
In fact, when compared to attacking midfielders and wingers, Bitello’s tackles are in the top 14% but even more impressive, his interceptions are in the top 2%. This particularly comes in handy when he plays as a winger because he has the stamina and desire to track back and the defensive ability to help support the RB and provide further defensive assistance.
With great technical ability and passing range, Bitello has become a key figure for Grêmio and if anything is probably their main player behind Luis Suárez who leads the line for them. Interchanging with other attackers and playing one-twos to create space and chances is Bitello’s specialty so if played in a set-up that has attackers in close proximity, he can engage in the silky link-up play to create chances with ease through key passes (2.07).
Ball progression is achieved by Bitello not just through carrying the ball but also through progressive passes (5.65) & passes into the final third (3.82). Obviously one of Bitello’s greatest strengths is his versatility. In 33 games, Bitello has played 10 games at RW, 9 at RM, 5 at DM, 4 at AM and 3 at CM.
Important factors to consider with players who are versatile are relational awareness and the application of their skillset depending on the position they’re deployed in. For example, if a player plays centrally and wide, he needs a different type of awareness depending on which position and how he manipulates the space around him would vary too.
Bitello alters his special awareness well as he naturally was a central midfielder where he would have to scan to see his whereabouts more often and track markers. He would also come to life when on the counter-attack as he’s great at running into space.
With all of that in mind, as a winger, he plays a ‘controller’ type role where he comes inside to link up with attackers and is a high-volume passer for a winger. His average passes attempted this season are 50.18 (with a lot of these games being as a winger or part of the games playing as a winger).
An interesting aspect of Bitello’s game is that he’s in the top 1% for fouls drawn with 3.42 per 90. His dribbling style is effective in drawing fouls because of the way he positions his body in between the ball and the marker so they struggle to win the ball back. He’s also in the top 1% for ball recoveries with 7.41.
An area for development is to have consistently good decision-making. Sometimes he can choose to run with the ball too much or not release the ball quickly enough. However, he has great instincts so if he can work under a great coach who can train him to make better decisions and refine his game, he could really take his level up a notch.
Bitello reminds me of two players: Lucas Paquetá (from his Lyon & Flamengo days) & Matheus França. Especially in the way that he’s able to play in many attacking positions (particularly on the wing) due to his body type being like a winger, however, he still possesses great hunger to win back the ball and make tackles.
At the age of 23, Bitello has played 83 games for Grêmio, scoring 16 goals and creating 7 assists. After Arthur Melo (Barcelona), Pepê (Porto), Everton Cebolinha (Benfica), and Vanderson (Monaco), he could be the next Grêmio player to make the move to Europe. One team that has been heavily linked is Arsenal. Under the management of Brazilian Sporting Director Edu, Arsenal have signed a wide range of Brazilian players from Gabriel Jesus to Gabriel Martinelli, from Gabriel Magalhães to Marquinhos, and Bitello could very well be the next to join the Gunners.
Whilst he does have a €60 million release clause, it would reportedly take just under £10 million to sign him from Grêmio. A unique, versatile playmaker, Bitello would provide a counter-attacking threat for Arenal and could fill in as a backup on the right flank for Bukayo Saka. Alternatively, he could be a low-cost substitute for Romeo Lavia and provide a creative profile in central midfield, especially in the event that Arsenal sell Thomas Partey. A young, cheap, versatile option who could fit into the budget following the arrivals of Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Jurrien Timber, Bitello ticks all the boxes for Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal.
By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson_
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / @GabFoligno / Fernando Alves – Getty Images