Julio Enciso: Brighton’s Paraguayan Prodigy

At 19 years old, Julio Enciso is schooling Premier League defenders in the art of the beautiful game. Swiveling, shimmying, and shaking his way into Roberto De Zerbi’s plans, the sky’s the limit for this pocket rocket Paraguayan. Enciso has a highlight reel to marvel at, with his wand of a right foot leaving goalkeepers suspended in disbelief. He’s capable of the spectacular and the simplistic in equal measure. Announcing himself to the world with a 30-yard pile driver away to Chelsea. He proved this was no fluke by repeating the trick against Manchester City to take home Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season award. 


Sharp movement, tight touches, and composure beyond his years would also see him notch goals away to Arsenal and Bournemouth. Ultimately there’s not just fire and brimstone in his boots but an agile footballing brain that’s left some of the Premier League’s most revered defenders retracing their steps. Alongside the silky Japanese winger Kaoru Mitoma, the pair have added elegance to industry for the Seagulls. Make no mistake these two are cut from the same cloth. 


With the ability to turn on a sixpence, Enciso has bought his party trick to the table and ensured the opposition are left dancing to his beat. Fainting one way, then the other, before spinning his partner around and bursting into the distance. It’s a modern take on the Paraguayan Polka, and it’s causing a storm in the Premier League. Capable of playing off the wing or through the middle. The inevitable departures of Alexis MacAllister and Moises Caiceido this summer suggest Enciso will be entrusted more heavily to glue together defence and attack with his quality in the transition. 


Completing on average 3.46 successful take-ons per 90, according to FBref, there’s arguably no better player at the minute when it comes to beating his man. Consistency is key for a player of his age, and time will tell whether he can sustain these numbers as his role in the side grows. But with Brighton only looking up, Enciso is riding a wave of momentum heading into next season.



Take-on stats are often fraught with complications because they don’t account for the position a player is completing said take-on. But with Enciso, everything moves forward – he’s producing 4.35 progressive carries, 3.24 carries into the final third, and 1.90 carries into the penalty area. These are high-volume, high-stakes plays, and he’s doing this on a weekly basis.


Brighton, for all their style, have lacked substance over the years, but with Enciso in the side, they have a player unafraid to make the telling contributions in the final third. Playing off the technically tight and physically imposing Evan Ferguson, Enciso’s low centre of gravity allows him to ghost into shooting positions unmarked. Again, Enciso is a high-volume attacking player, with his 4.24 shots per 90 perhaps a symptom of his age. 


Though not the most able passer, Enciso has still shown glimpses of his ability to link up play and create chances for others. Against Aston Villa, his combinations with Denis Undav, a more agile striker than Fergusson, kept causing problems for Unai Emery’s men. In Undav and Ferguson, De Zerbi has two different types of strikers to call upon, and with Enciso able to switch up his play to suit both, Brighton now have options going forward when previously it felt like they had no plan B. 


It looks set to be a summer of upheaval for Brighton, and how they line up going into next season remains a mystery. But with Enciso taking his opportunity with both hands, it appears they have another young star to pin their hopes on as they contend with European football for the first time in their history.


By: Sam Tabuteau / @TabuteauS

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Craig Mercer / MB Media / Getty Images