Raphael Guerreiro has risen out of obscurity to become one of the most promising left-backs in French football. Entering just his third professional season, Guerreiro is a well-established squad member at Lorient, where he locked down a starting spot last season, amassing 34 league appearances in total. And all at 20 years old. Those statistics alone point toward a bright future, so much so that other teams have begun to take interest. West Ham were said to be considering a bid earlier this summer, while some fans are clamoring for Liverpool to consider Guerreiro.
It hardly bears repeating that the Portuguese National Team disappointed this summer at the World Cup. Since the team’s exit from the tournament, the conversation around the team has shifted to questions of “what went wrong?” While there are many legitimate reasons one can speculate upon (see PortuGOAL’s article), for the purposes of this article, I would like to highlight one issue that may sometimes be overlooked: Rotational Dynamism. It sounds like a bear doesn’t it? Well, let me explain what I mean.
One criticism of this Portuguese team and of Paulo Bento for some time now is a lack of new players selected to the squad. If a team finds success, there is still a need for change, so as to combat inevitable stagnation. The sport of soccer needs some level of surprise and dynamism, and one way for teams to achieve this is to introduce new players into a team. The lack of new players into the Portuguese team has long been one of the chief criticisms aimed at Paulo Bento, and is one of the factors that many speculate contributed to Portugal’s crash this summer. So…the solution is an obvious one: give new players opportunities in the team. And Raphael Guerreiro is the player to choose.
With a full season under his belt in a top division, he can at the very least provide much-needed cover for the team. Few will argue that Fabio Coentrao is Portugal’s man at left-back, and that his starting position is not up for debate. Guerreiro is certainly good enough to provide cover for Coentrao, and Portugal needs to tie him down as soon as they can. Born in France, the defender is eligible for both France and Portugal, and though his loyalties thus far have lied with Portugal, the longer he stays out of the team’s picture, the harder it may become to keep him away from the French team.
For more information on Raphael Guerreiro, take a look at this scouting report by our friends at Futebol Factory.