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André Silva: Master Apprentice


There has been so much hype over this guy. And for good reason. Cristiano Ronaldo himself named him as his heir. But I never like to talk about the “next big whomever.” I believe that every player is unique, and that is certainly true in this situation, simply in the length of the neck alone. And while the two players are both Portuguese and both the same height, they are anything but the same. At 21 years of age, André Silva is not just some apprentice. He is already a master apprentice.

Making a deal with i Diavoli

André Miguel Valente da Silva began his youth career at Portuguese side SC Salgueiros in the city of Porto. He would end up at FC Porto Juniors at the age of 15 and then move up to the senior reserve side, Porto B, in 2013. During his time in Porto B, he scored 24 goals in 84 appearances. Not too bad for a teenager.

Just two years ago, at the age of 19, Silva was promoted to Porto’s first team. Although he struggled a bit for playing time behind other more experienced strikers, he was given enough opportunities to prove his worth. In total, he scored 17 goals in 41 appearances, including a goal against Roma in the Champions League. And remember he’s still only 21.

See? He's great in the air.

Also remarkable are his consistent performances for the various Portuguese national teams. He has featured regularly for every side from U16 on up. His highest scoring tally to date was during his time for he U19 side, where he scored 16 goals in 24 appearances. That included scoring four in a single match vs. Hungary in the U19 Euros, the first player to ever do that. But perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that in just 10 senior national team appearances, he has already netted seven goals. Seven.

Watching him play this week for Portugal in the Confederations Cup, he is not only quick, but has a great awareness of his teammates. He is strong and has no problems muscling defenders off of him. At 6’1” he is surprisingly skilled in the air. He doesn’t hesitate to take opportunities, and he is fearless on goal. Forget Cristiano Ronaldo, this guy is the next André Silva.

His relationship with the back of the net is very healthy

So how did we get such a perfect striker for only €38m? Well he is young. Comparatively inexperienced. And therefore a risk. But Mirabelli & Fassone made the most of all of that time with the delays of the sale of the club. They scouted well and moved quickly to snap up this young talent. Silva has a great footballing mind, and is wise beyond his years. It’s not so much that he has a hunger for the goal, but an innate connection with the back of the net. And he’s got the physique and the skillset to make that connection complete. So even if he is a risk, he is a risk worth taking. I would not be surprised if he returns dividends much higher than other strikers who are more experienced and cost much more.

His individual accolades are incredibly limited thus far. He was named to UEFA’s Champions League Breakthrough team in 2016. But more recently, he participated in a heavyweight competition and won. The competition was Nike’s Strike Night, and he went head to head with Icardi and won. Not just against that wife-stealing thug, but the whole competition. Some of the world’s best strikers.  He beat Aubameyang, Christian Benteke, Marcus Rashford, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and more. Was it just a marketing ploy? Or is there something to that competition for Milan fans to look forward to? Certainly the duel vs. Icardi leaves me excited to see more. And I hope it plays out even better on the pitch.

World heavyweight striker

No one can say for certain if his career will continue on the amazing trajectory it has been on. A player’s career is shaped by so many different factors. He needs good teammates, a good manager, proper support from fans, to avoid injuries, no family complications, and more. If the stars continue to align for Silva, he could very well write his own page in red and black history. Watching a player who has already accomplished so much at such a young age, he is not simply someone’s apprentice. He is already a master apprentice.


This post inspired by the music from Disney’s “Fantasia”
  
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