Two Brazillians A-League clubs must sign next season

Daniel Penha’s departure from the Newcastle Jets was undoubtedly felt across the A-League.

His flair, skill, technical excellence and class hadn’t been seen in this league for a long time.

The question for not just Newcastle, but all A-League clubs, which players can be brought into the league, either on a marquee deal or just simply coming in as a visa player, that could potentially transform the competition.

Two players that have caught my eye over the last few months have been Murilo and Reis, both Brazillians who are playing in Korea.

Murilo Henrique Pereira Rocha or just simply Murilo, has been in Korea for the last two years playing for Jeonbuk and more recently with Suwon FC in the K-League 1.

Isnairo Reis Silva Morais, or Reis, has been in Korea for just a year less applying his trade with Gwangju FC who are currently in the K-League 2.

Now, I have suggested these players in an article I did with the A-League Wrap Up in April however in this piece, I will analyse these players in much greater depth to give fans a better understanding as to why I rate these two so highly.

Before I do commence, the only real stumbling block when it comes to whether these players could potentially come to Australia or not would be related to finances.

These players are understandably on a fair amount of money with their respective teams.

But, there could be a method on bringing these players in, as through the new designated player scheme that was introduced by the APL ahead of last season, players can now be brought in to the competition and have their salary not included in the salary cap.

So should A-League Men clubs choose to pursue either of these players, there is a potential method as to how they could be brought in to the competition.

Murilo

Murilo is without a doubt an excitement machine.

He’s skillful, intelligent, creative, has an eye for goal but also has an excellent technique that allows him to create chances from all areas on the pitch.

Beginning his career with Goiás Esporte Clube in Brazil, the 27-year-old was used in a variety of positions in an attempt to be brought into the starting lineup.

While he was with Goiás in both the Brazillian Série A and Série B, it’s fair to say that Murilo did struggle for consistent gametime.

From 2017 to early 2020, Murilo frequently moved around Brazil playing for various teams on loan including Associação Atlética Ponte Preta and Botafogo Futebol Clube.

After a resonably impressive spell with Botafogo, where he scored 8 goals and grabbed 3 assists in 35 games, he then made the move to Jeonbuk Hyundai in Korea.

During his time with Jeonbuk, he still struggled to have a meaningful impact on games where he only managed 3 G/A in 26 appearances across all competitions.

He then went to Suwon FC in early 2021 and it was this 2021 K-League 1 season where he really started to gain some consistency and start performing at a reasonably high level.

That season, he managed to score 5 goals and grab 9 assists in 31 games, as he became more confident within his abilities.

When analysing where Murilo is most effective, areas in and around the left half-space saw him operate at a good level.

Murilo’s heatmap from the 2021 K-League 1 season

The reason why he was so effective in those areas was because he could cut inside on his right foot, where he could shoot, make a pass in behind or engage in clever combination play with one of the forwards.

His first goal for Suwon FC that he scored against Seongnam FC showed why he occupied that particular area of the pitch.

Murilo likes to receive the ball in between the lines, where he can turn but if that’s not available, he’ll identify the available space and occupy himself there.

In the situation below, the Brazillian has already identified that he can’t receive in between the lines in that phase of play, so he instead identifies and moves towards the space in behind the midfield line.

Murilo identifying the space

What works quite well for Suwon FC when they’re creating play in the midfield third, their 1.96m striker Lars Veldwijk worked very effectively as a target man, where the midfielders and wingers could use him as a wall to bounce pass.

Geon-ung Kim broke the lines very well with his pass that went straight into the feet of Veldwijk and purely by instinct, the South African lays the ball off with one touch perfectly into the stride of Murilo who was able to smash the ball home.

Murilo scoring his goal

The goal was quite simply brilliant, as the strike itself was fantastic, but the build up play prior was spectacular.

Teams in the A-League, like Western United, Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory have players who have similar qualities to both Geon-ung Kim and Lars Veldwijk, so there’s every chance that sort of goal would be a regular occurrence.

It’s one thing to be able to identify space, but the ability to know when is the right moment to exploit it is a pretty difficult skill to master.

Now I’m not suggesting that Murilo is the master of this, however he does seem to have a pretty good grasp on when to make his movements in the box.

Take his goal against Seongnam FC in May of last year.

The wing-back, Jeong Dong-ho received the ball from a 1–2, and very cleverly Cruyff turned his man anticipating the slide tackle to block from the defender.

As Dong-ho was turning, Murilo slowed his run into the box to see where the space was and how the wing-back was going to deliver the cross.

Murilo waiting for the cross

As illustrated by the diagram, he knows where the space is, he knows he’s not being tracked and the Dong-ho is most likely going to deliver an in-swinging cross.

So as the South Korean gets his head up, Murilo darts into the space between the two defenders and wonderfully heads the ball into the back of the net.

Murilo’s goal

Suwon FC have complete faith and confidence in both Murilo and their striker Lars Veldwijk when it comes to attacking phases of play.

In this example below, both are in good pre-conditions for a potential counter attack.

Murilo and Veldwijk occupying good positions for a counter attack

The reason why these positions occupied by the two players is so important, is because once the ball gets to Murilo, he can then receive in space and create play.

During the 2021 K-League 1 season, the Brazillian created 16 big chances across the season, so he was their chief creator.

So after a few seconds, Murilo receives the ball, still in space and is able to face forward. Now, this is dangerous for any opposition team as he has the vision but also the skill to pull off incisive balls in behind defences.

Murilo facing forward

The big striker Veldwijk sees that Murilo has the ball and he’s already on his bike, which shows the trust and confidence he has in the Brazillian to play a good ball in behind.

Low and behold, he does just that and Veldwijk finishes making it 1–0 to Suwon FC.

Lars Veldwijk getting on the end of Murilo’s through ball

So my concluding thoughts in regards to Murilo and his suitability to the A-League, I think he would be a terrific fit, particularly if he’s playing with a striker that is physical, can hold the ball up and has the ability to make the right runs and movements at the right time.

When you look at some of the best striker-attacking midfielder partnerships over the years in the A-League, with the likes of Miloš Ninković/Bobô and Diego Castro/Andy Keogh coming to mind, I could see Murilo working well with strikers like Bruno Fornaroli, Beka Mikeltadze and Aleksandar Prijović.

Those three strikers are all physical, intelligent and clinical strikers in their own right, and they’d all be scoring goals for days should Murilo be playing for their team.

Reis

Reis I’ve began to learn more about since former Perth Glory defender Aaron Calver made the move to Korean side Gwangju FC.

When speaking with Calver, he described the 29-year-old Brazillian attacker in a very positive light.

“He’s a very good player. He runs like a dog, like there’s no problem! Very good with the ball, scores goals, physical, he’s got everything.”

Reis spent an extensive time in Brazil playing for a host of clubs including Clube do Remo, Atlético Goianiense, Internacional, América de Natal, Caxias, Boa, Vila Nova, Criciúma before then making the move to Confiança in 2020.

It was at the club from Aracaju, where Reis really started to find some form and began to show his potential.

Operating as a winger, comfortable on either side of the pitch, Reis scored 10 goals and grabbed 5 assists in 34 games in the Série B.

This then saw him earn the move to Gwangju FC in March 2021.

His first season saw glimpses of his quality, as he scored 4 goals and notched up 5 assists in all competitions.

But it has been this current 2022 season where Reis has really started to make a name for himself.

At the time of writing, Reis has scored 8 goals and made the 1 assists in 21 games which is an incredible improvement from his prior seasons with his respective clubs.

There’s been some experimentation with Reis at Gwangju when it came to finding his preferred position as he has spent time as a winger, a number 10 and even played as the main striker.

I feel he’s been at his best when he operates as a winger. As a right winger, he’s scored more goals but as a left winger he’s made more assists but whatever side he plays on, there’s a guarantee that a few key qualities would be on display.

For one, Reis is confident with the ball at his feet.

His assist for Um Won-sang in the final game of the 2021 K-League 1 season against Incheon United was perhaps one of his best examples of his skill.

When the Brazillian is in a 1v1 situation, the chances are he’s most likely to win that battle.

Below he is engaged in a 1v1 against the Incheon defender.

Reis in the 1v1 situation against the Incheon defender

Quite often, he’ll win those duels as he’s able to combine his trickery with speed and quick changes of direction.

He performed a few stepovers, made a dart to his left and then made the Cruyff turn. The defender took the bait, and was then put off balance.

Then this situation occurred.

Reis about to cross the ball

His intention was never to go and cross on his left foot, but instead to create space and change the angle to allow him to cross on his right foot.

The following cross was a super one and all Um Won-sang had to do was guide the ball home.

If the Brazillian is allowed time and space on the ball to cut inside on his right foot, then it spells trouble for the defenders.

He may not have scored a large number of goals from cutting in on his right, however his technique is unbelievable when he manages to pull off a world class goal.

The goal that he scored against Pohang Steelers in late 2021 was an absolute ripper.

The defenders gave him far too much space and time for him to cut inside, which allowed Reis to unleash a monster goal from quite a fair distance out.

Reis lining up to score his goal

From set-pieces, Reis is also quite accomplished.

His deliveries are quite quick, with a lot of speed and curl which makes it very difficult for opposition teams to deal with.

In one game against Suwon FC last year, Reis picked out Aleksandar Andrejević expertly well from a free kick situation.

The ball was in the far left and the Brazillian whipped in a very dangerous cross towards the middle of the goal.

Reis standing over the free kick

The delivery was that good, it was in the stride of the big defender and all Andrejević had to do was poke the ball home from basically point blank.

Andrejević’s goal

I think Reis would be a great addition to the A-League. Many teams lack a player that has speed, technical quality, versatility and flair in wide areas.

The 29-year-old Brazillian attacker would offer just that and I could see teams like Brisbane Roar, Perth Glory and the Western Sydney Wanderers really valuing his services.

Those teams need wide players who have that x-factor about them, and in my view there aren’t too many going around that are better and more financially feasible than Reis.

Concluding Thoughts

This piece was designed to give fans a slightly greater in-depth analysis of both Murilo (Suwon FC) and Reis (Gwangju FC).

Both are fantastic players who are having very good seasons with their clubs.

Should the possibility arise that they could come to the A-League, I would highly encourage clubs to explore those two players.

Their creative, possess great flair and quality, dynamic and they would possibly be a game changer in terms of bringing crowds back to the games.

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