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Opinion

Bruno Guimaraes – Impact at Newcastle United bigger than you even imagined

2 weeks ago
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Monday May 16, 2022. Arsenal are pushing for a champions league qualification spot, a much improved Newcastle United are safe from relegation, with little but table position to play for at the end of the season.

Newcastle have been a revelation under Eddie Howe, playing a more attractive style of football and vitalised with the January transfer window signings of Dan Burn, Matt Targett (loan), Keiran Trippier and midfield maestro Bruno Guimarães.

Still, the sentiment of most Newcastle fans before this game is cautiously optimistic. Newcastle opens the first half; Dominant. Playing Arsenal off the park from the first whistle to the last. Newcastle comfortably win 2-0.

Yes, Newcastle have improved under Eddie Howe. Yes, the signings of Targett and Burn played a huge part in a strengthened Newcastle defence.

However, the biggest difference has been clearly made by Bruno Guimaraes.

Pressuring, tackling, carrying the ball successfully, being available for passes, completing passes and even scoring. He does everything and he does it very, very well.

Let’s talk about Bruno.

Most Newcastle fans in December of 2021, were not aware of Bruno Guimaraes, aged 24 and plying his trade for Lyon in Ligue 1. Known as an all-action midfielder, a box-to box type who was able to pick a pass, tackle well with a great engine.

Lyon’s sporting director Juninho Pernambucano, when asked about Bruno: “I was a pundit in Brazil when I saw him for the first time,= and I was impressed by his qualities. He is a complete midfielder. He sees things before others. He takes risks.”

Bruno Guimaraes at the age of just 12, was released by Flamengo in Brazil. However, he was scouted by Athletico Paranaense and taken on loan in 2017 after a spell with Brazil’s Serie D side Audax.

It wasn’t long before the loan was made permanent and within a few years the midfielder was highly touted as one of Brazil’s most scintillating prospects. Athletico Paranaense received enquiries from Arsenal and Chelsea. However, Lyon struck first, purchasing Bruno for £20 million in 2020.

Just two years later, In January 2022. Bruno would make the move in a deal that surprised many, to Newcastle for £35m plus another £6.25m in future add-ons if hitting certain targets (NUFC avoiding relegation the main one!).

Bruno Guimaraes is not known for his goal scoring prowess (three goals in 71 appearances for Lyon) but he has been incredible this season at Newcastle, in just 11 Premier League starts scoring five goals. He boasts a crazy 50% shot on target accuracy.

What is interesting and something to keep an eye on next season. Bruno at Lyon played the most progressive passes of any midfielders in Europe’s top leagues at 7.88 per game!!

This highlights the importance this summer 2022 transfer window of players who score highly in progressive passes received and touches in attacking areas. An area Newcastle must improve on.

Bruno also shines bright defensively, amongst the very best when it comes to tackles won overall and tackles in opponents’ defensive third. The midfielder also pressurising very frequently, not allowing his opponent time on the ball. It is Bruno’s style of defending. Pressuring until he sees an opening for a tackle. If he is not tackling, he is either intercepting the ball or blocking a pass. Bruno is an absolute master defensively.

Interestingly, Bruno has seen a significant drop in touches per 90 minutes in comparison to his play at Lyon earlier this season. Where he would have 87 touches per 90 minutes, for Newcastle at 62, he has seen a 30% reduction.

More interesting observations: 69.53 carries per game at Lyon to 45.17 at Newcastle and 8.65 progressive carries at Lyon compared to 4.70 at Newcastle. This may be down to a number of things; less playing time and comfort within the game, acclimatising to the premier league, tactics and playing personnel.

Next season I am expecting a huge improvement to somewhere near his Lyon days where he was near to the best in Europe.

Conclusion

Bruno has been our best midfield signing since Cabaye and will more than likely surpass him. He is symbolic of a new era at Newcastle United – a player and club that have unlimited potential.

At 24, he is still yet to reach his prime, which is a scary proposition for the Premier League. With Newcastle looking to surround him with increased talent, I cannot wait to see what next season holds for Bruno at Newcastle.

(Ilkka Howard (AKA NunewcastleFC) was born and bred in Sydney, Australia and got into supporting Newcastle United from afar in 1998 when watching them on TV highlights shows down under, he now has his very own NUFC blog which you can visit here)

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