Club: Girona (on loan from Troyes)
Position: LW, RW, AM
Preferred Foot: Left
Strengths: dribbling, agility, creativity, 1v1s, flair, decision making, crossing, finishing
Areas for development: weak-foot ability, shot volume
Sávio is one of the stars of Girona’s outstanding season so far. The Brazilian winger has been toying with La Liga defences all season and has been a key component in Girona being second in La Liga right now, level on 45 points with league leaders Real Madrid. He’s already attracting interest from other teams but for now, he’ll be staying at Girona as they look to qualify for Europe for the first time in club history.
Sávio (AKA Sávinho) is a technical dribbler with the agility to turn past defenders smoothly with ease. The Brazilian winger uses his flair, skills and flicks to turn past defenders. With 5.54 take-ons attempted (2.60 successful), Sávio is a 1v1 specialist. Previously Sávio played mainly as a right winger who would cut inside on his left foot and shoot or cross into the box. It’s these types of angles that allowed him to display his ball-striking ability and accurate delivery from crosses. However, at Girona, he’s mainly been used differently.
Girona have often opted to play Sávio as the LW. But that’s not changed his style of being an associative winger. Sávio comes inside to interchange with central players and carries the ball into the final third (2.77 times p90) and the penalty area (2.25 times p90). Sávio is an efficient outlet for Girona and is often positioned high and wide where he can be in space, available to receive the ball and then progressively carry the ball up the pitch (5.37 p90), whilst 10.57 progressive passes received emphasises Sávio’s importance in Girona’s attack.
The Brazilian attacker is a creative winger, almost like having a midfielder play wide but as explosive and able to be as direct as most ‘out-and-out wingers’. When Sávio inverts, he can drive through central areas to make space for other runners and create in zone 14. On the other hand, Sávio will also go down the outside when on the left side and deliver accurate crosses into the box for the striker, be that Artem Dovbyk or Cristhian Stuani, to win headers. He’s a selfless attacker, often choosing the smart pass over going alone, boasting a decision-making well above his 19 years.
Don’t get it twisted: when in the final third, Sávio is a good finisher too. This season in 18 games he has 4 goals and 5 assists despite only taking 1.1 shots per 90, with over half of them (0.6) being on target. This is a good goal return for limited shots and an xG of only 2.52 and exemplifies his strong finishing ability. When driving down the line, Sávio loves to deliver a powerful shot across the goal to the far post in the bottom corner, similar to Gareth Bale’s iconic finish vs. Inter. On the left side, it does limit his shooting angles. If he’s playing on the right, he can cut inside and shoot across the goal and find the back of the net in the top left corner.
One of the areas for development for Sávio is his lack of shot volume. Whilst this might be down to him playing as a left winger and his tactical instructions from Michel, but in order to reach the top level, he should get to at least 2.0 shots per 90 and regularly test the goalkeeper. There’s also room for improvement with his weak foot as he’s very left-side dominant, making him a tad predictable and less dangerous as a finisher, and it means that he usually opts for his left when embarking on a dribble or a 1v1 situation.
Sávio is on loan from Troyes, his 2nd loan since being purchased from Atlético Mineiro in the summer 2022 for €6.50 million. Having previously joined PSV on loan last season, he is making a name for himself in Spanish football. He has been linked with various clubs such as Barcelona, but it seems like he will remain put at Girona for the rest of the season, where he can continue to be the attacking protagonist and a transitional specialist, as well as push for a maiden call-up to the Brazil national team.
It should also be noted that Sávio is in the City Group (Girona, Troyes, Palermo, etc), and as such, Manchester City have the upper hand when it comes to signing him. The reigning European champions have a wealth of attacking talent on the flanks from Jack Grealish to Phil Foden to Jeremy Doku, but they have consistently shown to be a team that gambles on promising young stars like Julian Alvarez and Josko Gvardiol. At 19, the world is Sávio’s oyster, and it may just be a matter of time before we see him wreaking havoc in attack for Pep Guardiola’s Cityzens.
By: Ben Mattinson / @Ben_Mattinson_
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Alex Caparros / Getty Images