When Bordeaux signed Malcom at the start of 2016, experienced Football Manager 2016 players across the world would have nodded knowingly, aware of the young Brazilian’s potential.
In the real world, too, Malcom had shown his talents turning out for Corinthians. The 2014 season saw the young attacker getting chances to impress and the 2015 season saw him cementing himself in the team, with 46 appearances across the whole season in which he scored 8 goals.
He truly caught the eye during a successful season as Corinthians won the league title and Malcom was unsurprisingly linked with a vast swathe of Europe’s bigger clubs.
A strong showing in a talented Brazil team at the U-20 World Cup followed and at the end of the 2015 calendar year, he was ready for a move. It was perhaps unexpected then that Malcom ended up at Bordeaux at the start of 2016, but it allowed him a chance to play regularly in a European league without too much hype or pressure and in hindsight, it is fair to say the decision was a good one.
The acclimatization period before featuring regularly was short too, by the end of February Malcom was regularly coming off the bench. The 2016/17 season has seen him take another stride forward, as a starting fixture in Bordeaux’s attack.
Malcom has some international experience too, although it is ended in heartbreak. He was a member of the Brazilian side which made the final of 2015’s U-20 World Cup and lost in extra-time to Serbia.
"I wanted to leave, I tell the truth,’ Malcom said to Telefoot.
"It’s my dream to progress in my career. I spoke with the president [Stephane Martin], he told me that he knew it was my dream, but that he needed me." he added.
Style of play
When one thinks of Brazilian attackers, there is a certain stereotype. Pace, power, skill, directness and for Malcom it is no exception, as exemplified by his regular comparisons with Robinho.
The young Brazilian uses his electrifying ability well, able to play in wider positions as he typically has for Bordeaux, or behind the striker. But Malcom is not just a one-trick pony. His ability to fashion chances for himself is married with creative instincts which make him just as capable of creating chances for teammates.
When one thinks of Brazilians who can do anything with a ball at their feet, one thinks of the likes of Ronaldinho with obscene tricks and flicks. Malcom’s feet are far subtler though, using slight flicks and agile changes of direction to make space for himself and they allow him carry the ball effortlessly.
Perhaps surprisingly for a young attacker, it is the subtleties of his game that are most impressive. Part of his power on the ball no doubt come from his build, despite not being the tallest at 1.71m tall, his stocky physique allows him to hold off the unwanted attentions of defenders when they manage to get near him.
Combined with his quick turn of pace the Brazilian can seem almost unstoppable when he gets up a head of steam. Malcom is not afraid to go for goal himself either, happy to take a shot from range if he cannot find a better option, or straight from a free-kick.
Although he has the technique to threaten the goal, it should be hoped no doubt that his numbers in terms of both goals and assists will increase in time to match his ability.
Having only been in France for a year there is no great burden on him yet but he will be expected to contribute more as his development continues. For all the positive aspects of his game there are other areas which could do with improvement too.
His contributions defensively have been criticised previously, with accusations that he does not cover enough ground for the team or is unlikely to go into a tackle with the same commitment others might. I
t is possible the stereotype of being a young Brazilian attacker has influenced these views to an extent but either way, Malcom will want to distance himself from such labels in the future, as footballers at the top level are usually required to contribute in all aspects of play.
This is especially true of many of today’s top teams which employ high-intensity pressing systems. His lack of height means he is not the strongest in the air either, although it is up for debate how important this is for an attacking midfielder.
His stats speak of what he's capable of
Malcom has completed 67 successful take-ons this season- fourth best in the league. In fact, only Neymar(142), Florian Thauvin(98) and Nabil Fekir(76) has managed more. He has also registered six assists this season and putting the ball at the back of the net eight times with four times being out of the box.
Having a left foot like Arjen Robben's, his ability to cut inside is phenomenal and has led to himcreating a lot of chances this season for his team. The Brazilian has created a total of 59 chances this season- more than that of Kylian Mbappe and Nabil Fekir.
Things seem simple for Malcom right now. He is getting as much first-team football as he can handle at Bordeaux and that can only be good for his development.
The more minutes he continues to receive, the more he can work to raise his game and iron out those weaknesses, while also affording him the opportunity to build up a fitter engine so that he can become a stronger two-way runner.
A little work on his consistency week in, week out and being more unselfish will be just fine for the 20-year-old.
It is imperative that he bears that in mind in the future too, having already shown a down to earth attitude and good decision making in choosing Bordeaux as his first European destination.
While there is no doubt he will view a bigger club as his next step as he continues to improve, there should be no hurry for him to leave the situation he is in at the moment, but that will not stop Europe’s bigger clubs trying to turn his head as they did before he moved to Bordeaux.Published 05 Mar 2018, 12:02 IST