AC Milan are on the cusp of signing Brazilian Centre-Back Leo Duarte for a rumoured 11 million from Flamengo. Here's a look at what the 23-year old defender will bring to Milan:
Leo Duarte: Only Victor Cuesta (2.8) and Rodrigues (2.6) are making more tackles per game than Duarte (2.4) of centre-backs in the Brasileirao this season— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 30, 2019
For more player stats - https://t.co/7hTdu6xu3A pic.twitter.com/dxZEVSiVTz
Hard Hitter and Strong Tackler
Leo Duarte is a tough defender. He is not afraid to go in for a tackle and he wins those tackles. Milan have been missing a defender to partner Alessio Romagnoli for the past few seasons and Duarte might just be that man. Defensively he keeps it tidy at the back but opposed to Romagnoli positional and marshalling approach, Duarte very much likes to jump into tackles and impose himself on the opposition. In his 7 games in 2019, he recorded 2.4 tackles per game whilst he had about 1.2 for the 2018 Brasilerão season. His best quality is perhaps avoiding bookings as he was only booked thrice in the league in 2018 and twice in 2019 showing he knows how to play hard but smart.
Good Short Passes
Duarte looks to fit Marco Giampaolo’s plans because he is strong defensively but also because he is a fantastic passer especially short balls. This quality was sorely missed with Mateo Musacchio who lacked the composure to take on pressure and maintain passing lines across the defence and the regista. Duarte does well to know where his teammates are and can be very helpful in building up from the back as well as easing pressure when the opposition try to win back the ball. He maintains a solid pass success rate of 90% over the 2018 and 2019 seasons whilst occasionally attempting a long ball or two per game.
Léo Duarte falhou na marcação hoje no lance do 1° Gol. Assim como ele havia falhado contra o Fluminense dia 06/04 no Gol do Gilberto no empate de 1x1. Em ambos os lances ele fica observando a bola e esquece de marcar o atacante próximo a ele. Totalmente disperso. pic.twitter.com/6QDtObodir— Daniel Cabral ᶜʳᶠ ⚫ (@DanielCabral21) July 25, 2019
Massive Room to Improve
Duarte is the fourth consecutive investment in a good centre-back over the past two years with Musacchio and Leonardo Bonucci in 2017/18, Mattia Caldara in 2018/19 and now Duarte in 2019/20. Hopefully, he can be the one to form a solid partnership with Romagnoli given the carousel and the need for consistency for more than a few months. Duarte comes with lots of potential but also a few areas of improvement notably his positional awareness. One of the major complaints I cam across from Flamengo fans was his propensity to follow the ball whilst losing his man occasionally leading to wide open spaces in the box especially from crosses. Giampaolo will need to grind this out and ensure Duarte quickly adopts to the Italian style of defending where players are not left unattended.
Outro cruzamento do Vitinho, gol do Léo Duarte. pic.twitter.com/c6aiQEas85— CENTRAL DA NAÇÃO (@centraldanacao) October 13, 2018
This is one trait that Milan direly need in the back line and the squad as a whole. Milan need ferocious players who put the opposition on edge and bring some fire into the side. This window has brought Ismael Bennacer and Duarte who are both players with the right winning attitude to take Milan back to the top. The closest comparison I can make to the impact of such a player is Mario Mandzukic, everyone hates him but the impact he has for Juventus both mentally and technically is what sets them apart. Milan now have two such players who will get into scuffles but will but some fear into the minds of our opponents.
Duarte will be reuniting with Lucas Paqueta when he joins Milan and the pair were pillars for Flamengo in 2018 when the Rio-based club finished 2nd in the Brazilian Serie A. This reunion will be pivotal to assist both players to integrate easily in Italy and to form bonds with the rest of the team as the pair will both be learning Italian etc. This will also impact the assimilation of Leão who is Portuguese thus Duarte, Paqueta, Leão and Andre Silva will be a relatively large group of Portuguese speakers in the squad. These small aspects often seem irrelevant but are helpful when there are so many new faces and a new system to adapt to.
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