Written by Enzo Karema
18 years old and putting defenders down with his vertiginous skills on the ball. Watch him glide, running on the right-wing and cutting in from the left. Ah, a pure masterpiece. Proving his potential to all the doubters, and broadly making his name into the footballing world. A gifted apprentice from a state of São Paulo in Brazil, delightful to experience. This is, of course, Real Madrid’s Rodrygo Goes.
The Samba lives in him. He has no fear to take a defender on and is a goal threat in the final third. His game is based on hugging the touchline until he gains possession, often remaining out wide. Unlike Gareth Bale, who constantly looks to drift inside to gain possession and have more influence, Rodrygo will stick out wide, only cutting inside once on the ball and being supported by a full-back. A good finisher and keen creator of goalscoring opportunities, his dribbling and vision are so mature to go with an attitude that matches. He’s way too confident for a player his age playing for Real Madrid and the Brazilian Senior team. He’s not nervous nor does he seem pressured.
Luis Figo once said, “To play for Barcelona means to have an opportunity for a brilliant career. But to reach the top of it, you have to play for Real Madrid.” And this quote perfectly relates to Rodrygo Goes recently. He’s got a lot of potential, and wants to prove it by creating an era of his own. He doesn’t care if he’s surrounded by players already with a good reputation or status as football players and doesn’t seem pressured but does seem comfortable with the ball at his feet. His tactical intelligence has enabled Zinedine Zidane to utilise him as an inverted winger to great initial success. Goes has arrived in Madrid in amidst a plethora of mature and experienced wingers, who should influence him to turn into an elite winger.
Whether he cuts right or left, the enemy always drops just like their chances of winning the duel. His elegance, style, and the famed Samba DNA makes him the type of player you wouldn’t like to face but just sit, watch and admire. He needs to stay with that competitive mindset in order for him to improve and have the mentality to want to become even better because that’s how top-notch wingers are made. But unfortunately, people have gotten him excited after a few good games which is an occupational hazard for most of football’s most talented youngsters nowadays.
Football is a game mainly based on entertainment. It’s good to enjoy, be happy and have good times. That’s all it’s about. But the media and fans are spoiling the good vibes by focusing on young talents which adds exerts more pressure on them. Visualizing them as the next Ronaldo or Messi. But he just wants to ride the show and keep proving his potential. He waited for his chance and when he got it, he didn’t disappoint. Stop pressuring him and try to motivate him instead.
The Real Madrid team should try and exploit his talent, perhaps by making him a regular starter so he can live up to the pressure. His teammates too should advise him and help not only how to grow into a brilliant player but also into a man. A brilliant offensive weapon and a raw, unpolished dribbler who torches flanks by using his low-center of gravity and blitzing pace, he also possesses the finishing skills to complement his elegant passing, often dictating the tempo.
Rodrygo is a versatile player who, like his idol Neymar, can play on either flank and occasionally carry the ball to central areas. His pace is a huge asset to his style of play and it allows him to create space in 1 v 1 situations to carry out a body feint. Obsessed with dynamic football and finding the quickest path to the goal, his tendency to break lines keeps defenders back-peddling and guessing his next move. He’s also a player who depends on his instinct more than any other quality.
Real Madrid may want to put him high up the pitch without giving too many defensive duties but he will have to improve his passing and expand his dribbling skills. As time passes, he might also want to improve on his defensive abilities in order to play a very important role while counter-attacking. He’s also a head-down dribbler, which he shouldn’t be. Needs to improve on his header too. I am in no doubt that he will learn things naturally, just through trial and error.