Andre: The perfect defensive midfielder

Andre volante defensive midfielder fluminense liverpool arsenal fulham libertadores

André is a sensation in Brazilian football.

Playing as the holding midfielder for Fluminense, the player possesses all the necessary characteristics for the position, along with many others.

Join us in discovering the journey of this player, as well as his future prospects.

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Andre’s journey

André Trindade da Costa Neto, or simply Andre, was born on July 16, 2001, in the city of Algodão, Bahia, Brazil.

The midfielder is another of the famous talents from Xerém, Fluminense’s base.

It’s not recent that the Tricolor Carioca has been revealing high-level players for Brazilian and world football. Besides the longstanding tradition, the club also boasts an organizational structure for player development.

From the Libertadores-winning team, besides Andre, other players were nurtured at home. The most famous among them, of course, is Marcelo. But not only him. Martinelli, Aleksander, and the hero of the title, John Kennedy, also went through their formation at Xerém.

A touching photo circulated on social media posted on Facebook by Andre’s teacher, Mrs. Suzana Dias, in his hometown.

The picture showed the now-player at around 10 to 12 years old, with the teacher’s comment: Good luck to my student, Andre, who will try out for Fluminense.

Ex-professora de André vibra com chegada do volante do Fluminense a Seleção | fluminense | ge

Image: Facebook Reproduction

When athletes are on the big global stages, we often forget about the journey they’ve been through. Many times, they had to deal with adverse situations, emerging from the lesser-known areas of Brazil.

Nevertheless, even before his debut in the professional team, Andre was already seen as a highly promising player. More than that, an athlete who could yield many benefits for Fluminense, both financially and in sports terms.

For this reason, in his first professional contract, the player already had a release clause of €40 million, which remains in place to this day.

He made his debut in Fluminense’s main team at the age of 19, in a friendly against Botafogo. The midfielder came on for Hudson in the 42nd minute of the second half.

At the end of the match, he was interviewed by FluTV and said the following:

“Everything we’ve been through to get here comes to mind. I’ve been preparing a lot for this opportunity. I’ve mentally prepared myself a lot. Unfortunately, Hudson got injured this week. I had already been envisioning that I could make my debut. Fortunately, it happened. It’s a very good feeling. Every kid who becomes a player wants to experience this. I’m happy. There’s a certain pressure and butterflies in the stomach. But we, as professional players, have to be prepared for everything. Unfortunately, Yuri got sent off, but our team has been working hard together, and we managed to handle the situation.”

The beginning of the statement aligns with what was mentioned earlier.

Since then, he has amassed 163 official games for Fluminense, with 4 goals and 3 assists.

André - Fluminense

Image: FFC Press Release

Playing Style, Statistics, and Fernando Diniz

Andre is the holding midfielder for the Fluminense team, the popular ‘anchor’ in midfield.

With rare exceptions in world football, this position usually requires a player highly focused on marking but lacking in various aspects when in possession of the ball. Be it in passing or dribbling.

With Andre, the story is different.

Speaking in terms of statistics, it’s not an exaggeration to say that he is one of the best players globally, particularly in this specific position.

His defensive prowess translates into numbers. According to the 2023 data from Sofascore, the platform and year used for the following statistics, he’s the player who has recovered the most balls worldwide, a total of 406.

The reason behind this is the open manner in which Fernando Diniz’s Fluminense plays. The coach deploys wide midfielders to contain opponents’ attacks from the flanks, but the team’s midfield gets exposed since Ganso lacks marking attributes.

Among all players worldwide, this isn’t the only aspect where Andre leads.

He achieved something almost unimaginable. Up to this point, he has a pass accuracy percentage higher than Toni Kroos, at 94%.

Moreover, concerning passing accuracy, he’s the player with the most successful passes globally, dominating the stat with 3925 accurate passes in 2023, followed by Rodri with 3272 and Toni Kroos with 2969.

As if that weren’t enough, he’s the leader yet again, by a significant margin over Rodri, in actions involving the ball, totaling 4904.

To comprehend these astonishing numbers, it’s necessary to delve into Fernando Diniz’s philosophy and playing style at Fluminense.

As previously mentioned in earlier articles, Fernando Diniz values apositional football (contrary to Guardiola’s school, which requires players to have specific positions on the field, playing an extremely significant role in both offensive and defensive team construction), allowing players’ intuitive abilities to flourish.

Diniz states that this is the lens through which Brazilian football should be seen, as players possess this natural intuition, developed due to cultural aspects.

Based on this, Andre can be considered the perfect holding midfielder. Fluminense, in the vast majority of games, is the team that dictates play, building up from the goalkeeper’s goal kicks.

Therefore, it’s very common for Andre to drop into the penalty area to receive the ball from Fábio, the Flu’s goalkeeper.

From there, he displays his impressive intelligence and intensity. The player continuously distributes passes and provides options for his teammates until one or two lines of the opponent’s defense are broken. Usually, he’s the creator of the pass that breaks the first line.

The mentioned playing style isn’t limited to the build-up phase; it extends throughout the game. As observed, Andre is an excellent defender. Unlike many players in his position, he doesn’t just clear the ball after winning it back.

On the contrary, he manages to evade opponents’ pressure spectacularly, constantly scanning his surroundings. He resembles the “Busquets School” of the position.

Lastly, he’s a versatile player. Besides playing as the holding midfielder, he has also operated as a central midfielder and, on numerous occasions, as a centre-back. When Fernando Diniz is losing an important match, he often substitutes a centre-back with an attacking player, leaving Andre responsible for that area.

André e Diniz comemoram título do Fluminense na Libertadores — Foto: LUCAS MERÇON / FLUMINENSE F.C.


Future Prospects

His future prospects couldn’t be more promising.

Unfortunately for Fluminense fans, Andre might not stay in Brazilian football for much longer.

European clubs’ inquiries are starting to surface for the Tricolor das Laranjeiras.

However, as always highlighted by us at Calcio Deal, the prices offered by European giants might be considered outrageous.

With a release clause of €40 million, it was rumored in August that Liverpool was eyeing the player, willing to pay €30 million. Recently, journalist David Lynch reported that the Reds might no longer be interested in signing the player, which is a stark contradiction considering the season he has had.

Entering the fray for his signature are two other Premier League clubs, Arsenal and Fulham.

Now, let’s do the customary analysis.

Apparently, the only English team that understood the workings of the market concerning young South American talents was Brighton.

The team paid €28 million for Moises Caicedo from Independiente del Valle in 2021. Just two years later, they sold the player to Chelsea for €116 million.

Do the major English clubs have the inclination to purchase inflated players solely because they’ve played a season or two in the Premier League?

Andre’s release clause value doesn’t represent a significant amount in Liverpool’s or Arsenal’s budget. We’re talking about a 21-year-old player with excellent professional experience, playing in one of the best leagues globally and, to top it off, being a Copa Libertadores winner.

Regardless of the steps Andre may take, he undoubtedly has the capacity to perform in the top echelons of European football and as a starter.

The tip Calcio Deal leaves to English magnates is: buy the player now. If needed, loan him to smaller clubs, but don’t let this opportunity slip away.

André evita tom de despedida e revela cobrança de Diniz no Fluminense | Rádio Itatiaia

Image: Marcelo Gonçalves/FFC

Written by Vitor F L Miller.

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Tags: Exclusives, Highlights

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