Name: Bryan Zaragoza
Position: LW, RW, AM
Preferred Foot: Right
Strengths: speed, 1v1s, dribbling, agility, finishing, weak-foot
Areas for Development: physical strength, duels
It has been a roller-coaster few years for Granada. Diego Martinez guided the newly promoted side to the Copa del Rey semifinals and a first-ever European qualification after finishing seventh, with Granada reaching the quarterfinals in the Europa League and Copa del Rey as well as finishing ninth the following season. However, after losing Martinez in the summer of 2021, the Andalusians proceeded to suffer relegation, but they would quickly bounce back with Paco Lopez taking charge in November and guiding them to first place in the Segunda and an immediate promotion.
Granada have struggled in their return to the top-flight and sit 19th in the table with 11 points from 20, five points away from safety, with Alexander Medina struggling to turn around their form since replacing Lopez in November. After picking up their second league win of the season, Granada fell to a 1-0 defeat to Real Betis courtesy of Isco’s late winner, and they’ll be looking to bounce back with a home match on Monday against Atletico Madrid.
One year after departing Sevilla, Isco is excelling in midfield for crosstown rivals Real Betis and enjoying a mid-career renaissance under Manuel Pellegrini at the age of 31.@JJMont3ro takes a look at Isco’s rebirth at the Estadio Benito Villamarín:https://t.co/EUnrFlXRsx pic.twitter.com/2eLQL3U6yz
— Breaking The Lines (@BTLvid) January 15, 2024
It remains to be seen whether or not Granada escape the drop, but one thing’s for sure: Bryan Zaragoza will not be playing his football at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes next season. Instead, he’ll be suiting up for Bayern Munich.
The reigning Bundesliga champions announced the signing of Zaragoza on December 6, paying a fee of €15 million for the 22-year-old winger, who will join Bayern this summer after penning a deal through 2029. A native of Malaga, Zaragoza joined Granada in 2019, plying his trade out on loan and working through the academy ranks before progressing to the first team, and he has impressed in his first season in the Spanish top-flight.
Zaragoza is completing 2.6 dribbles per game, level with Savio and second only to Vinicius Junior and Nico Williams (3.0) in La Liga. Similarly to Eden Hazard, he’s a player who can accelerate at the blink of an eye and attack either side of the fullback with equal danger. Boasting a low center of gravity, he’s skilled at using his body to shield the ball and is capable of using either foot to not only dribble past his opponent, but beat the goalkeeper as well.
He has electric pace and can reach his top speed in an instant, allowing him to create separation from his defender with ease. This acceleration makes him a headache for any fullback — once he’s beaten his man, there’s just no stopping him. Moreover, he’s also a 1v1 specialist who’s able to dribble either the right or left side and use his elite agility to drop his shoulder at the very last second.
Eden Hazard turns 33 years old today. To celebrate the legacy of one of the game’s most imperious and unplayable forwards, we’re paying homage to Hazard — the archetypal enigmatic flair player with the ability to change a game of its head.@Moe_Adikwu: https://t.co/jj1GOjr4Zk pic.twitter.com/azxMwyR14U
— Breaking The Lines (@BTLvid) January 7, 2024
Not only is he a quick dribbler, but he’s also a quick thinker who’s capable of processing information rapidly — once he’s fixed his marker’s body orientation, he can instantly take advantage and break away from them. He ranks in the 99th percentile for progressive carries per 90 (5.45), successful take-ons (3.06), and touches in the attacking penalty area (4.17) and comes out in the 97th percentile when it comes to progressive passes received (6.74) and non-penalty goals (0.31).
Zaragoza’s dribbling in tight areas is top-class: he has a style which makes it look as though the ball is stuck to his feet. But he doesn’t dribble for the sake of it — instead, he’s capable of dribbling down the pitch, relieving pressure on his defense, and breaking forward with ease and generating dangerous opportunities in transition. His composure in front of goal belies his 22 years of age — he often has a cool head in high-pressure scenarios and has been able to feign shots to deceive his marker and/or the goalkeeper before slotting home.
A skilled finisher with either foot, he’s racked up 6 goals and 2 assists in 19 appearances, but whilst his shooting accuracy is impressive, he does need to improve his shot volume. Zaragoza takes 1.6 shots per game, 0.9 shots on target per match, and he ranks atop Granada’s squad for scoring frequency (one goal per 245 minutes), expected assists (3.98), goal contributions (8), and whilst he sits level with Albanian striker Myrto Uzuni as the team’s top scorer, he has racked up 3.58 expected goals, second to Uzuni (6.84).
Zaragoza’s final ball and crossing ability makes him an effective playmaker, a player who is skilled at delivering in 1v1 situations, boasting electric speed and turn of pace, and capable of wriggling out of tight areas and testing the keeper with either foot, a player who is a multi-faceted weapon in attack.
One area for development will certainly be his physical strength. At 5’7″, he’s often pushed off the ball far too easily, particularly in aerial duels, but he does have good core stability, an agile player who does well to keep his balance and stay close to the ground whilst not losing possession.
Whilst his decision-making also needs some work, it’s clear that Zaragoza has the potential to be one of the top wingers in Europe, and he could flourish in a team that carves out chances with regularity and holds onto possession with ease like Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern.
He’ll be competing against the likes of Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala and Kingsley Coman for game-time and looking to stake out a long-term spot in their squad, but before taking off for the Allianz Arena, he’ll be tasked with inspiring a second-half turnaround from Granada as they look to stave off relegation.
By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson_
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / NurPhoto