21 Midfielder FC Lorient Portugal
FC Lorient currently find themselves in the strange position of having two very competent left-backs in their first-team squad. Rather than letting one rot on the bench, head coach Sylvain Ripoll uses Vincent Le Goff as the designated left-back and deploys Raphaël Guerreiro on the left side of midfield.
As such Portugal’s Raphaël Guerreiro doesn’t actually play regularly in his strongest position. Since the beginning of last season he has been pushed forward into midfield and admittedly, he has started to blossom. We remain convinced he is still a better full-back than winger, but the improvements to his game are starting to bring the comparison a little closer.
Raphaël is a great defender when the ball is on the ground. At five foot seven he is the perfect full-back to send diagonal balls over the top of his head to get in behind the defence and it’s probably for that reason, he has been kept in a forward role. He has little physical stature or aerial ability.
Going forward, the French-born Portuguese international is a really fun player to watch. He is very quick and blessed with a lovely left foot. Raphaël is learning a new position and he will be given time to do that at Lorient. They are worse things to be doing than playing regularly in Ligue 1 while coming to terms with the attacking elements of your game and be able to produce an end product regularly.
2015 has been…
As French Football Weekly’s editor Andrew Gibney told us; “He's been quieter this season. I think not getting a move harmed him a little but he has put his head down and got on with it. You see a more attacking style player, likes to come inside more and more. He has a cracking left foot - but you definitely want to see more on a consistent basis.”
This is the tricky thing as we had a funny feeling he’d have been snapped up during the 2015 summer transfer window. He needs playing time to continue to improve as a left winger but as a left-back he could do a more than admirable job at any club in Europe tomorrow if he was asked to.
A move in January seems unlikely thanks to the European championships. To give Guerreiro the best chance of adding to his handful of caps he needs to have a sublime six months which will be harder to do in new surroundings. That; or he can hope for injuries to limit the number of alternatives available to Fernando Santos. He was part of the most recent international squad but that was very much a panel tailored towards two friendly matches.
His career ultimately beckons beyond France and it will be up to the player and Lorient as to when that happens. Lorient aren’t foolish enough to try and keep him – they have sold Kevin Gameiro, Laurent Koscielny and Vincent Aboubakar before him – and know it is in their interests to sell when the offer is high.
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