Salvadore Agra 22 Striker Braga Portugal
2013 has been…
A nightmare. Acquired by Real Betis in 2012, wiry forward/winger Salvador Agra had looked a good player in Portugal’s Segunda and Primeira Liga’s over two seasons with Olahense. Selected for the Portuguese under-21 side, and performing well on the right wing or as a second striker for the Esperanças, Betis looked to have made a smart move when they picked up 60% of the rights for the 20-year old in January 2012.
Making his top flight debut in Spain during a superb 5-3 victory at Athletic Bilbao, Agra made a good fist of tormenting defenders with some smart passes, direct running and clever positioning. He maintained his position on the right side of Betis’ midfield as the club surprised many in the first half of the season, none more so than the visiting Real Madrid who were despatched 1-0 at the Benito Villamarín. Relegated to bench duties from there on in to accommodate veteran Reubén Castro meant that Agra had to play second fiddle to a player in excellent form.
With Castro performing heroics for Betis, the option to loan the player out for greater experience was accepted and Agra moved to Italy with Siena in January this year. The move offered Agra a chance to show what he could do, but three starts from a possible sixteen matches, with each of those ending in a relatively early substitution, highlighted a player that had tailed off alarmingly.
A return to Portugal on loan this summer, with an option to make the deal permanent, this time to Braga, has maintained a downward trend. Of ten opportunities at the Estadio AXA, Agra has started only once, again with a relatively swift removal each time. He has also failed to shine in any of his substitute appearances.
Things could barely have gone any worse over the last twelve months for Salvador Agra and while he has picked up a couple of knocks, thankfully he retains good fitness, even if sharpness and match practice are lacking. However these remain the most scant of positives he can take form 2013. As things stand Agra remains on the periphery at Braga, perhaps not quite fitting in with the set up of Jesualdo Ferreira’s teams.
All of this seems a great shame. Although Agra was never likely to be a real world-beater for Portugal, his move to Betis offered hope for a promising young attacker. Here was a tidy player at an appropriate club at a good time in his career, but things have become tangibly sour very quickly.
The lack of matches have dented Agra’s international aspirations too and it’s almost two years since his last game for the Portuguese under 21’s, to imagine he was once considered a future international seems ridiculous now. If there’s an underlying issue here it’s that Agra seems to consistently end up at the wrong club, but then after a string of changes of environment, none of which seem to have improved the player at all, you really have to wonder whether Agra is just not up to playing at the level he has been selected for.
That argument can be countered by some really good matches in the Portuguese top flight for Olahense, but that was almost three years ago now, and the Salvador Agra of 2011 looks a much better player than the one who enters 2014.
If there’s a ray of light in this story it’s that Braga retain a relatively small squad and if their club captain and incumbent right midfielder, the Brazilian Alan, should miss any matches, then Agra will be the first in line to replace him. As long as he remains in the squad and on the bench, Agra retains his status as a potential impact player and has the ability to be just that, however, at no time in the last twelve months has he made much of an impact or hinted at doing so. To expect him to do so anytime soon, might be asking more than he can deliver. This might be it.
"We might not have made a good call in selecting Agra here." - Jeff Livingstone, IBWM
"Salvadore Agra's only goal in La Liga so far in his career came against Atlético Madrid." - Opta
E Change a game, quickly