Otávio 22 Midfielder Atlético Paranaense Brazil
Otávio Henrique Santos was born in Maceió, a coastal city in the east of Brazil, and has been at Curitiba’s Atlético Paranaense since 2008, when he was 14 years old. He joined the first team squad in 2014, making his debut that April, and has now been a fixture in the team for a couple of years.
2016 has been…
2015 on repeat. This year, just as last year, Otávio has been very much a regular starter, so 2016 has been a year of stomping known territory for the 22-year-old. That’s how he plays, too. Difficult to find he ain’t; he’s one of a pair of defensive midfielders and either has excellent tactical discipline or genuinely loves where he plays.
He stands out despite his stature thanks to his big mop of black twists, and he has two clear sides to his game. Firstly, he’s destructive. He marks space and presses when his zone is penetrated, and he can drop in to cover the defence when Atlético get counter-attacked. While you wouldn’t exactly describe him as combative, Otávio is no shirker. There’s a bit of spice to his game, though, and he really snaps in at times.
The defensive side of his game is flawed for reasons of inexperience. He can go to ground too early in the tackle and doesn’t always have the measure of when a ball is or isn’t there to be won. There are games in which he gets overrun, but his tactical importance justifies his selection tenfold.
Secondly, and far more effectively for our money, he’s constructive. He’s a cracking passer, endlessly efficient with the ball and possessed of good vision and execution. Otávio is the archetypal recycler of possession – you could watch him for weeks and you’d do well to notice him failing to complete a pass.
He’s excellent at tight one-touch passing sequences under pressure and also has the ability to stride away from an opponent when he wins the ball and has no obvious pass available. He connects the play beautifully in the middle and is hugely comfortable on the ball. It’s not sexy, but what Otávio offers is a nice balance between grit on the ball and elegance off it.
In terms of improvement, it’s the destructive side of Otávio’s game that has the greatest potential for a step up in 2017. He could do with adding just a few goals a season, but that’s unlikely to ever be his focus. Turning his growing experience into better off-the-ball decisions will take him to an extremely impressive level.
The next natural move for a player of this kind of potential is to Portugal, and we’d be surprised if he doesn’t land in Europe inside the next year or two. But the all-important international bow doesn’t seem likely any time soon. Otávio is yet to represent Brazil at any level, and, with the senior side the only remaining frontier, he could prove to be one of those men who just never gets the call. Regardless, he’s going to be a very good player indeed.
C- Held back by a lack of Seleção involvement
All images used have been kindly provided by the National Audubon Society in The United States under a Creative Commons License. The Society’s mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. You can donate to their work, here.