Although most of the attention given towards U21 players is directed to Ousmane Dembélé and Kylian Mbappé, it cannot be denied that André Silva is one of the most exciting youngsters in the game. His 52 goals and 16 assists at the mere age of 21 is praiseworthy in itself, and the potential he harbors should be neither underestimated or ignored.
Although the Portuguese’s €38M move has been eclipsed by the Donnarumma contract saga, Silva is shaping up to be a crucial piece to Montella’s Milan puzzle. The youngster is expected to spearhead Milan’s reformed attack, and despite his young age, he seems perfectly suited to the task. He has received plaudits from his compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo, along with the likes of former Portuguese player Deco. The 21-year old is a force to be reckoned with, not only supplying goals, but also providing creativity that will surely complement that of his new teammate, Suso. Provided he continues to develop throughout the upcoming seasons, Silva will cement his stardom for the iconic black and red.
Whilst enthusiasm for the former Boavista starlet may be curbed due to higher expectations (Milan had been linked with Morata and Belotti), the Rossoneri have plenty to be excited about. The Baguim do Monte native broke into Porto’s first team under former manager Julen Lopetegui towards the end of 2015, and his success as a starter was evident by the relegation of Vincent Aboubakar to the bench, with the Cameroonian having to leave on loan to get playing time in Turkey.
Silva’s good form extended into the 2016/17 campaign, proving to be Porto’s main goalscoring threat, while also supplying the third-highest number of chances in the squad (39). Only 15% of his shots came from outside the box, highlighting his excellent positioning and eagerness to get in the box. His quality also extended beyond domestic competition, where he scored 4 of Porto’s 9 total goals in the Champions League, created 11 chances, and supplied 2 assists.
His club form has been replicated at the national level, where he has produced an astonishing 7 goals in his first 8 senior outings. After just 13 senior team appearances, he already has 8 goals and 4 assists, a tribute to his multidimensional play style. As Silva himself said in a recent interview, he cannot be likened to any other player: he had previously played as a midfield playmaker and in a wide role before finding himself as a center forward. Thus, Silva has an extra dimension of creativity in his locker, and combined with his aerial prowess and skilled hold-up play, Milan have a rare talent at their disposal. His tendency to tirelessly chase down defenders, combined with his opportunism and awareness, emulate the archetype of the striker best suited to Montella’s system.
To maximize Andre Silva’s attacking productivity, he is best paired with a clinical striker, such as Diego Costa or Nikola Kalinić. The 21-year-old isn’t an out-and-out goalscorer; he isn’t just a poacher. He can’t be relied upon to score 25+ goals per season. Silva is much more of an integrated player, who doesn’t not only provide goals but create them. Montella himself has said that Silva is capable of playing both as a first and second striker, but he could become burdened by the pressure to score countless goals as a first striker. Expect Silva to bag a decent amount of goals, but don’t expect that to be his only contribution.
With 29 goals for club and country this season and an additional 12 assists to add to his remarkable stat sheet, Silva appears likely to establish a significant role in the Rossoneri’s brand new XI. His natural instinctiveness and composure add to his complex repertoire, and he is undoubtedly one of the most well-rounded youngsters in the game. Not only dedicated to scoring goals, Silva is adept in build-up and is fluid in his off-ball movement. His diverse qualities epitomize the modern striker, not limited by clunkiness on the ball or hindered by a lack of mobility. Perhaps his most impressive quality, given his age, is his tactical maturity and acute intelligence. His ability to occupy the small spaces between defenders grants his teammates extra space to occupy, and ultimately, is one of the overarching factors that sets him apart from other young center forwards.
Vincenzo Montella’s recent comments have sparked comparisons of the youngster to former Milan striker Marco van Basten. Montella believes Silva will take time to adapt to football, Italian-style, but that his future is bright. Such an exciting prospect is bound to become a success, and André Silva has the potential to become the next big-name Portuguese footballer in the game.
Written by: Brandon Duran/@Alcxntara6
Photo: Louie Hendy/@LH_BCFC