Four Attacking Midfielders Perth Glory Could Sign Next Season

(Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)

It’s been a season to forget for the Perth Glory.

12th place, a multitude of players out injured and the club is in a dire state.

However, that being said, the positive to take out of this season is that there are clear and identifiable areas where the club should look to invest in, one being attacking midfield.

In my opinion the Glory have barely any members on this team that are “creative”. By that, I mean that players in offensive positions lack the playmaking abilities that are necessary for breaking teams down and creating chances.

Take a look at the most successful teams over the last few years, they all had a fantastic creative player in their team.

Thomas Broich, Miloš Ninković, Ulises Dávila and a name that is closer to home for Perth fans, Diego Castro.

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

I miss El Maestro, and there’s no doubt the Glory did too this season. Ultimately, it was the right move to let Diego move on given he was 39 at the time however the qualities he possessed were incredible.

His touch, vision, flair, close control, skillfulness, quick thinking and his overall playmaking abilities made him a nightmare for defenders.

You get too close to Diego and he’ll turn just like that. Give Diego too much time on the ball, and he will find that pass to split the defence.

Perth Glory did not adequately replace Castro, now whether Daniel Sturridge or Adrián Sardinero were his “replacements”, in my view both of those players failed and never had the qualities to be the Glory’s main playmaker.

Statistically this season, there have been multiple elements to highlight the Glory’s inability to create and finish chances.

  • Big Chances Created (15, 12th)
  • Big Chances Missed (18, 12th)
  • Goals per Match (0.7, 12th)
  • Total xG (22.6, 12th)

So already, there are a number of statistics collated from this season that highlight how poor the Glory have been going forward this season.

There’s been far too much of a reliance on 34-year-old striker, Bruno Fornaroli.

He’s at his best with his back to goal, rolling defenders and getting the shot away in the final third, not dropping deep to create play.

Below is Fornaroli’s heatmap from this season.

Bruno Fornaroli’s heatmap from the 2021/22 A-League Season

He’s having to drop basically everywhere to facilitate our build-up and progression into the final third.

That’s just not his game.

When we brought Fornaroli in from Melbourne City in 2019, the then Head Coach Tony Popovic, utilised him in the correct manner, by ensuring he can act as a target man and operate mostly in the final third.

Often he’d drift to the left, but that was to link up with Diego Castro but also create space for someone like Chris Ikonomidis and Joel Chianese to exploit with their speed and power.

Below is his heatmap from the 2019/20 season.

Bruno Fornaroli’s heatmap from the 2019/20 A-League season

So heading into the 2022/23 season, recruitment will be analysed to a considerable degree given that was an element this season that has cost the Glory, big time.

I’ve got four options that Perth could look at heading into next season, where I’ll analyse what type of player they are, as well as how they could fit at Perth Glory.

Now, these player suggestions aren’t limited to Perth, as there are a few clubs in the A-League in need of a quality playmaker.

Lucas Villafáñez

  • Age: 30
  • Nationality: Argentinian
  • Position/s: Central Attacking Midfielder, Right Winger, Left Winger
  • Team: Panathinaikos Football Club
  • Career Appearances: 308
  • Career Goals: 42
  • Career Assists: 36
  • Transfermarkt Value: €800,000 ($1,166,945.42)
  • Contract (Per Transfermarkt): 2022

Brief Overview

He’s a player who’s had just under 130 games of experience in the Greek Super League. He’s someone who can operate as an attacking midfielder or as a winger. His crossing ability and dribbling are his best attributes, as with his dribbling for example, he can use it to get out of many tight and difficult situations. His set-piece ability (free kicks or corners) is also of a decent standard. His finishing and ability in aerial duels are his weak areas.

I also spoke with a Panathinakios fan, Nick (@lfcnickk), when collating more information about Villafáñez.

“For me the best player we have at the club. Technical, great dribbler, controls the game and has a brilliant passing range. That doesn’t mean that he is afraid to put in a tackle though. His energy is unmatched in the entire division. He’s also a great leader and sometimes acts like an in-game coach. Only areas he needs to improve in are his shooting and also he has a bit of a temper which leads to him getting booked a lot.”

How Villafáñez would fit in at Perth Glory

Looking at where Villafáñez operates at his best, anywhere across the midfield three would suit his game. Deploying him in wide areas could see him link up with players like Fornaroli or Daniel Stynes or even Carlo Armiento, who will be returning from injury next season. I’d even consider deploying him as a free-roaming 10 where he can occupy little pockets of space, that’s another option that could be utilised.

Lucas Villafáñez

Aias Aosman

  • Age: 27
  • Nationality: Syria
  • Position: Central Attacking Midfielder
  • Team: Ionikos Football Club
  • Career Appearances: 338
  • Career Goals: 69
  • Career Assists: 42
  • Transfermarkt Value: €800,000 ($1,166,945.42)
  • Contract (Per Transfermarkt): 2022

Brief Overview

A very high quality midfielder who’s clearly been a standout player, possibly the best player for Ionikos upon getting promoted. He’s a player who specialises in shooting from distance as well as being creative and dishing up assists. He’s been pivotal to their successful season, almost everything good they’ve done this season has come from him, chipping in with 6 goals and 11 assists this season. His weaknesses may be his aerial prowess and his tackling can sometimes be a bit reckless where he can rack up some yellow cards. Overall, he’s a player who’s of great caliber.

How Aosman would fit in at Perth Glory

Ultimately, playing him behind Bruno Fornaroli would utilise his talents to the best level. He loves making runs into the box and getting on the end of crosses. A real goalscoring attacking midfielder, who can play as a 10 or as a second striker, deploying him with the now Socceroo in Fornaroli, should lead on to many goals scored.

Aias Aosman

Murilo Henrique Pereira Rocha

  • Age: 27
  • Nationality: Brazil
  • Position/s: Central Attacking Midfielder, Winger
  • Team: Suwon Football Club
  • Career Appearances: 156
  • Career Goals: 18
  • Career Assists: 27
  • Transfermarkt Value: €800,000 ($1,166,945.42)
  • Contract (Per Transfermarkt): 2022 (not listed, however, 2022 is presumed)

Brief Overview

A very exciting player, Murilo is one of Suwon’s key players. Last season, he scored 5 goals and assisted 10. Predominantly operating on the left, he loves to drift around creating play or testing his luck in and around the box. He’s not afraid to shoot from outside the box, given he can often receive in pockets of space quite well. His link-up play is of a decent standard, as his dribbling and short passing makes him difficult to stop.

How Murilo would fit in at Perth Glory:

For me, I’d place him on the left of a front three. He was most effective for Jeonbuk and now for Suwon when he operates in those areas on the left. I could see him combining well with a player like Fornaroli. I could also see him doing well in a fluid front three where he could interchange positions with a winger like Armiento perhaps, given he likes to pass and move.

Murilo

Isnairo Reis Silva Morais

  • Age: 29
  • Nationality: Brazil
  • Position/s: Winger, Central Attacking Midfielder
  • Team: Gwangju Football Club
  • Career Appearances: 157
  • Career Goals: 24
  • Career Assists: 17
  • Transfermarkt Value: €400,000 ($596,732.03)
  • Contract Situation (Per Transfermarkt): 2022 (not listed, however, is presumed)

Brief Overview

A powerful and quick winger, Reis would offer any team speed but also an impressive awareness to create. Attacking the line with speed, then whipping a ball summarises a solid element of the Brazilian’s game. He’s intelligent in that he’s aware of where space is to exploit, and he can often find those areas with speed or for his teammates with a clever pass.

How Reis would fit in at Perth Glory

On the right wing would be where I’d utilise him. Glory have struggled with offensive transition this season, so having him on the right would all but guarantee a quick breakaway option should he be found. His skill, speed, power and more or less his end product in wide areas would make him a super signing.

Reis

Final Thoughts

Looking ahead to next season, it’s clear the recruitment will be analysed by not just the Perth Glory faithful but also the competition, given that element failed the club big time this season.

In my view, I’d sign Murilo and Reis.

Reason being, the Glory lack quality in wide areas. Bruno Fornaroli is having to drop into so many areas, that it leads to no focal point upfront. It’s also fair to say that Perth has had the worst wide play in the competition this season.

So given the club are looking to implement young players, bringing in some experience would allow the young players like Carlo Armiento, Pacifique Niyongabire, even Tyler Vecchio and Adam Zimarino to learn off of two fantastic players.

But like I said, the options I’ve listed in this piece aren’t limited to the Glory.

If you bring in the right creative player, the team will reap the benefits.

Take the Newcastle Jets this season. I believe it’s fair to say that Daniel Penha has been the signing of the season. 5 goals and 11 assists in 22 appearances. He has certainly been the catalyst for the side. The Brazillian’s creativity and ability on the ball is incredible.

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James Renton

James Renton

Huge Perth Glory fan. Manchester United greatly contributes to my irregular sleep schedule. You’ll find analysis, tactics and opinions usually on the Glory.