For this week’s edition of The Scout Report Series, we travel to the team with the most Portuguese players in England, and we are going to talk about a young player, who at just 20 has already had spells in Portugal, Italy and is now displaying his best football in the Midlands for Wolves. We are talking about the most influential U21 player in the Premier League in terms of goal contributions this season with 5 goals and 5 assists. Of course, we are talking about Pedro Neto.
Pedro Neto is an explosive 21-year-old winger who can operate either from the left or the right. He hails from Viana do Castelo, a municipality in Northern Portugal, a place that birthed another young left-footed winger in the form of Barcelona’s Francisco Trincão.
Neto started his professional career at Braga after coming through the youth system. He excelled at under 17 level, scoring 17 goals in 24 games but he ultimately made just one appearance for Braga’s B team and just three times for the first team. Struggling for game time, he made a bold decision to move to Italy to play for Lazio. His time in Rome didn’t go to plan and after 10 games and 1 goal for Lazio’s U20 side and 5 senior appearances, he moved to the Premier League to play for Wolves, departing Stadio Olimpico with fellow Portuguese Bruno Jordão as part of a double arrival at Molineux.
In 18 months, he already 75 times for Wolverhampton, scoring ten goals so far and quickly establishing himself as one of Nuno’s most important and influential players.
Neto, despite his tender age, has already made represented A Seleção at senior level, playing 45 minutes in a friendly v Andorra, a game in which he scored.Given his current excellent form, the UEFA European Championships at the end of the season is more than a pipedream for Pedro, it is a real possibility.
Pedro Neto is a winger who can play both from the left and right. Depending on which side he plays, his approach changes and he has a different effect on the game.
If he plays from the right side, he will try to beat his opponent and drift to central-areas where he can try to find space to shoot or play a key pass, for the striker or onrushing midfielder, he averages 2 key passes per match. This type of movement works especially well when playing in a team that prefers quick transitions as the team of Nuno Espírito Santo do.
If Pedro plays from the left side, he’ll try to isolate the opposition full-back and take him on, to later deliver a cross with his left-foot or a pullback. Another quality Neto can bring to the game coming from the left side is his timing of getting into the box when the ball is in the other flank.
The Portugal international is a very explosive player, one of his best attributes is his ability to quickly change his speed to beat a defender. His brilliant dribbling ability, coupled with a good shooting range (35% shooting accuracy), makes him a very dangerous attacking player. However, Pedro Neto’s biggest attribute is after beating his man, he has fantastic awareness and composure, his decision making when deciding whether to go with a cross into the box, a pullback or finding the space to engineer his own shot at goal, is that which you’d find in a more older, experienced player.
This awareness is especially seen in Neto when he picks the ball in half-spaces, this awareness coupled with his speed of thought allows him to turn and straightway he knows what to do next.
Physically, he is not a tall player, standing at more or less the same height as compatriot Bernardo Silva, but he has great upper body strength and a low centre of gravity which gives him an edge when engaging in physical duels with opponents.
Out of Possession
Pedro is and always has been, a very committed player. Ever since his career beginnings, he’s been a leader. He was often captain of his respective squad during his time as a youth player, for example in the Braga Under 15s, Pedro was the captain despite being just 13-years-old. He is a player who always leads by example so it’s no surprise that without possession he tries to help his team as best he can. At Wolves, this is is no different, he is the forward player with the most interceptions at the club with an average of 1.1 interceptions per 90, as well as averaging 0.5 tackles per game.
Defensively there is one area of his game that he still needs to improve, sometimes he’ll press the opposition when the team is dropping on the pitch, which makes his pressing ineffective, but this is something that will come with time and experience.
Pedro Neto has everything to become a genuine world-class talent in the future. He has all the attributes to go to the very top in football, and a move from Wolves in the summer wouldn’t surprise anyone. For Pedro however, he needs to keep his feet on the ground and focus on his form for Wolves, with one senior Seleção cap already in the bag, and with the European Championships right around the corner, he will be hoping to be on that plane when the team board to defend their European crown.