For the second instalment of The Scout Report Series, we have decided to go with someone a little less well-known on the world stage, a player with just two cameos to his name thus far for the Porto first team. However, those who have been following Francisco ‘Chico’ Conceição’s progress through the various Porto and Seleção youth levels, know that he is one of the most exciting youth talents in world football. Allow me to give you the lowdown on a name you are going to be hearing more and more.
Francisco or Chico Conceição is the son of former Seleção international and current Porto manager Sérgio. Chico was born in Coimbra but it was a club 200 kilometres south where he began his footballing education. He joined Sporting CP’s famed academy at Alcochete as a young boy, staying for six seasons before leaving to play briefly for Padroense before making the move to Porto’s academy during the 2017/18 season. Porto is the club at which Chico has been at ever since and is the club that accelerated his progress through the U17, U19, B and finally into the senior team. His debut for Porto, coming recently vs Boavista, was an action-packed cameo that encapsulated what Chico does well. Good touches, expert dribbling (which led to Porto winning a penalty), tenacious hustling off the ball and an excellent passing range. If that cameo was just a taste of what’s to come, Porto supporters will be very eager to see more.
The 18-year-old is a left-footed right winger who has played predominantly for FC Porto B this season, competing in Portugal’s second division, Liga Portugal 2. Porto are having a poor season thus far, currently sitting bottom in the Liga, but it is Chico who has been the main bright spark for his side, scoring four goals so far this term which has saw him subsequently promoted to the senior side.
“I think he has incredible qualities” – Jesús Corona
He has been compared to Lionel Messi and whilst there is rarely any benefit in young players being compared to greats of the game, particularly so young in their career, in this case, at least stylistically it is clear to see why those comparisons have been made. Chico stands at just under 5 foot 6, has a wand of a left foot and possesses wonderful dribbling ability. One of his greatest attributes is the way in which he manipulates his body to elude his opponents, he rarely opts for over-elaborate skills and tricks to beat opponents but instead relies on feints, body swerves and quick changes of direction to bamboozle opposing defenders. Another excellent trait in his repertoire is his stop-start motion, he is able to come to an almost standstill and face up a defender, and then burst away with great acceleration in either direction.
Coming inside off the right-hand side onto his favoured left-foot is something that has become somewhat of a trademark for Chico and although defences will know this, it’s a lot easier to stop this in theory than it is in practice.
He possesses a very good passing range and is very adept at switching the play from left to right with long passes. You can see an example of this type of pass on his debut for Porto, which came just last week against Boavista in the Primeira Liga, the same match in which Chico won a penalty for his side.
He doesn’t just cut inside when he’s near the byline either, sometimes he opts to pick the ball up deep and drive through the heart of the pitch, something that can be very beneficial to Porto’s fullbacks, in particular Wilson Manafá. If Chico comes infield it gives the opposition left-back an issue of whether to go with him and risk leaving the space behind down the side vacant or to leave Chico and let the midfielder/central defenders deal with him.
In the image below, Chico has just came inside onto his left foot and is already attracting the attention of various opponents, allowing the Porto B right-back to move down the flank into a prominent crossing position. Whether or not this run is used by Chico or whether it’s just a decoy, either way it’s beneficial for Porto B.
Just a second or two later, the opposition left-back has been drawn infield by Chico, leaving the entire space open behind for the Porto B right-back to run into. In this instance Chico opts to switch the play to the left-hand side of the pitch, but the run and the reverse pass to the Porto right-back was on if Chico wanted it. A similar instance is captured in the photo below, Chico is central and on the ball, the Estoril back four is incredibly narrow and his run infield from the right hand side has created huge gaps for both the Porto B right-back or left-back to run into.
In the two images below you can see how this worked to Porto B’s benefit, with Chico opting to come inside and then play the pass once the left-back had been drawn infield.
Areas of Improvement
As with many, if not the majority of young wingers, decision making is a main area of improvement. Chico sometimes is guilty of going it alone as opposed to finding a teammate, particularly when he comes in onto his left foot near the byline. When he’s in this position, Chico has arguably already done the hardest part in evading his man but then will often attempt a shot from a tight angle when the easier and more beneficial option would be perhaps to square it for a team-mate, his assist numbers would skyrocket if the strikers could better time their runs with Chico’s slaloms into the box and Chico looked up to find them. That being said, this is something that can often be seen in B team and U23 matches, where the players appear at times to be more self-oriented, which is natural given that the objective for the majority of these players is to impress and make it into the senior side. Now he has now stepped up to the first-team, there will be more of an emphasis placed on him keeping it simple and making the right choice. I have no doubt that this is an area of his game that will vastly improve and now that he is playing with top quality forwards such as Mehdi Taremi, Chico’s job will become easier, he will learn from the Porto forwards exactly when and where to play that killer pass.
Francisco Conceição is a name that will explode across Europe in the not-too-distant future, for now he needs to concentrate on his game, continue to develop and take his first-team opportunities when they come with both hands. We for one cannot wait to see how he turns out in the coming years.