Wolverhampton Wanderers have officially announced the signing of 18-year-old Fábio Silva for a club record fee rumoured to be €40 million euros. Here is the lowdown on one of the brightest young players in world football.
18-year-old Silva is a product of the FC Porto academy, playing for the junior Dragãoes since 2010, he moved to rivals SL Benfica in 2015, playing for two years before returning back to Porto. Even at 15, Silva’s name was being reverberated around Portugal as being the next big thing. Sporting CP legend Manuel Fernandes boldly compared a 15-year-old Silva to Cristiano Ronaldo, “When Ronaldo was 17, he played as a striker for Sporting’s youth teams, I saw him doing things that I’m now seeing a boy from FC Porto do, Fábio Silva. He will be a hell of a player. In a short time, he will be an extraordinary striker.
A quick look at his youth record tells the story, a season with Benfica U15s brought 26 goals in 35 games. The season after he returned to Porto, scoring 31 in 33 for the U17s, the following year he stepped up to the U19s and scored 33 in 39. It was for the U19 team that he led FC Porto to UEFA Youth League victory, becoming the first Portuguese side to win the competition, beating Chelsea in the final. Silva scored five goals and assisted four in those nine Youth League games, demonstrating his ability to create as well as score.
With just 12 first team Liga appearances and one Liga start to his name, Silva is yet to have a true ‘breakthrough’ season, but that hasn’t stopped him from breaking records.
In August of 2019, Silva came on as a late substitute against Gil Vicente, becoming the youngest player in the club’s history at 17 years and 22 days old. He went on that season to break more appearance records becoming the youngest Porto player to play in a European competition (beating previous record-holder Rúben Neves), youngest Porto player to play in any competition in the Taça da Liga, youngest Porto player to start in the Primeira Liga. In the process, Silva scored to become the youngest Porto scorer ever with a goal in the Taça de Portugal, he then scored against Famalicão to become the youngest Porto goalscorer in the league.
What sort of player is he?
Silva is an intelligent footballer, with a lethal eye for goal. He is most comfortable operating as either a second-striker or as a centre-forward. He is a player that likes to provide, often dropping deeper to pick up the ball before attempting to play in a team-mate, his short-range passing is good making him a good link-up forward and he has a keen eye for a through ball. Players around Silva will get chances because of this, often for Porto’s youth sides Silva will pick the ball up deep before sliding a winger coming infield or an onrushing midfielder in for a 1-on-1, he is not the conventional number 9 who simply wants to stand upfront. His goalscoring record is the sign of a clinical finisher, particularly at youth level. He doesn’t panic in front of goal, always maintaining an aura of calm, particularly when 1-on-1. He is naturally right-footed and stands at just over 6 foot tall.
The challenges are obvious, what Nuno is getting in Silva is a talent with the world at his feet, who can be as good as he wants to be, what Wolves are not getting is the finished article. He hasn’t had a lot of the first-team experience with Porto, as is expected for a player of his age. He will continue to develop and grow and given the right conditions as Manuel Fernandes said three years ago, “he will be a hell of a player”. €40 million is a lot of money for somebody that hasn’t played a lot of senior football and in addition to that, he will have to adjust to a much quicker and physical league in the Premier League than he is accustom to. Nuno will be well aware not to overload the youngster and place too much pressure on his shoulders, but Wolves supporters have just cause be very, very excited.