Find out how you can use heat map, speed and distance metrics to play like Brazil’s highly-rated winger…
It’s not often you can call a 20-year-old mature beyond his years, but Malcom Filipe Silva de Oliveira is a welcome deviation from the norm. Leaving Corinthians aged 18 and crossing the North Atlantic ocean for Bordeaux speaks for itself, but it’s the circumstance and manner of which ‘Malcom’ has adjusted to life in the south-west of France that truly represents his character.
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Perhaps if it wasn’t for his levelheadedness, he’d already be at one of the big clubs – reportedly Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund – who are currently vying for his signature. Rewind a few years and Malcom was first attracting the attention of European superpowers with a starring role in Corinthians’ 2015 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A triumph, but despite the incentives offered to him, the winger chose the road less travelled and signed for Bordeaux. It’s a move that to some may seem brainless, but there was method to the madness – the mid table Ligue 1 side would guarantee him game time at a renowned testing ground for players leaving South America for the first time.
While there’s an endless list of case studies who have failed to fulfil their potential after moving continents, Malcom is a positive example to future players pondering a move. The odd mistep such as a recent disciplinary hearing for post-match actions suggest perhaps there’s still a bit of growing up to do, but it shouldn’t detract from the responsibility he’s taken on away from the pitch by acting as translator for Les Girondins’ latest Brazilian recruits Jonathan Cafu and Otavio. Inside the Matmut Atlantique, he’s been the only positive from a dire season for Bordeaux – four wins since a 6-2 drubbing by Paris Saint-Germain in September leaves the club in crisis after a promising start to the campaign. With Bordeaux struggling, you have to wonder how much longer they will be able to hold onto a player who is clearly destined for greater things…
While it could be a foreshadowing of things to come for Malcom, this campaign has been one of change when it comes to tactics. Under the recently sacked Jocelyn Gourvennec, the Brazilian has made remarkable progress on the right of a 4-3-3 formation that has given him creative freedom, but more importantly, challenged him to develop into an inverted winger.
It’s one he’s certainly risen to having already eclipsed last season’s tally of seven goals with eight strikes this campaign. The newly appointed Gus Poyet will obviously tinker with his predecessor’s narrow system to improve results, but encouraging Malcom to continue taking up positions that closer resemble a No.10 rather than a winger would be a wise move. Naturally left-footed, there’s nothing more the youngster enjoys than cutting inside and making space for an effort at goal.
We’re yet to see what the effects a managerial change will have on a player who’s still developing, but if you’re keen on playing like Malcom, don’t be afraid to come and collect the ball nearer the centre of the pitch. Take up positions behind the striker by drifting inside from the flank and try to impact the game with a shot or incisive pass – it will cause havoc for the defender marking you in addition to creating space for an overlapping full back.
Few know more about how devastating Malcom’s pace and skill can be than Nantes’ Koffi Djidji. The defender, faced with an unfortunate one-v-one situation, was bamboozled by a quick step over, trailed behind a sudden burst of acceleration and then could only watch as his marker fired across goal into the bottom corner. The resulting 1-1 draw wasn’t one to remember for those in attendance, but for the embarrassed left back, the winger’s endless surges down the flank won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
Djidji can at least take comfort in knowing he won’t be the only victim making an appearance on Malcom’s highlight reel. At times, it would appear as if the Brazilian has been holding his own personal goal of the season competition with a mixture of long-range efforts and individual skill – his thunderbolt against Lyon is well worth a trawl on Youtube.
But where does his direct wing play come from? Malcom cites Neymar and Robinho as his role models, while a growing contingent of journalists have drawn comparisons with Arjen Robben due to his speed and love for cutting inside. It’s a little premature to mention Malcom in the same breath as these three stars, but the trio do base their game on taking on defenders at pace, and it’s also something you’ll need if you’re going to play like Malcom. PlayerTek measures your top speed as well as the number of sprints you produce in training or game, so try and enhance both these numbers each time you perform.
Malcom’s remarkable progression this season has put him on the radar of Brazilian coach Tite, who’s already admitted he’s closely monitoring the winger’s form. If the youngster continues on this upwards trajectory in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France, he could find himself travelling a short 4,000 miles to Russia this summer as the surprise inclusion of Brazil’s final 23-man squad for the World Cup.
Still yet to be capped at senior level, Malcom’s case isn’t hurt by being part of the ’Geração de ’97’, the much-hyped crop of 20-year-olds which features Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, Watford’s Richardson and Roma’s Gerson. If the winger is to make that all-important step forward, he’s going to have to adjust to Tite’s high intensity tactics.
Now favouring a 4-3-3 formation having previously implemented a 4-1-4-1 line-up, Brazil’s defence starts in attack and forwards are expected to help recover possession in the opposition’s half and launch swift and punishing counters as well as driving the game forward. The front three crowd the centre when on the offensive, which suits Malcom down to a tee. However, when not in control of the ball, the Seleção’s tactics mean hard yards are required. Use your PlayerTek device to see how far your running, and then try to raise that each game as your fitness improves. Progression is key, as doing too much too soon increases the chance of picking up an injury.