When Fran Navarro rifled home his side’s equaliser against Porto last weekend, he etched his name into Gil Vicente folklore. The goal was his 29th in the Primeira Liga for Gil Vicente, making him the club’s best-ever goalscorer in the Portuguese top flight, surpassing Gil Alves. Navarro is also the only player this season to score at the Estádio do Dragão, Estádio da Luz and Estádio José Alvalade, a remarkable achievement.
The 25-year-old forward currently has 13 goals in the Primeira Liga this season, two goals shy of Benfica’s Gonçalo Ramos in the top spot. What is most remarkable about Navarro though, is just how important he and his goals are to this Gil Vicente side. The Barcelos outfit have managed to find the back of the net 25 times this season, meaning Navarro has scored over 50% of his side’s goals (52%). His influence doesn’t stop there though, on top of his goals, he has also created 12 chances and provided three assists – meaning Navarro has had a hand in (either scored or provided the assist) 15 of Gil Vicente’s 25 goals, which equates to 60% of all goals scored by the club.
An intelligent and highly proficient finisher, one of Navarro’s greatest strengths is his ability to find space inside the penalty area, making cleverly disguised runs and darting into position at the right time.
A brilliant example of his intelligence is demonstrated in this clip of his goal against FC Porto. As he makes his run into the box, Pepe scans to see where Navarro is, at this point the forward makes a movement to go right before quickly shifting back and making a run to the left of Pepe and into space to receive the ball.
12 of his 13 goals have been scored inside the penalty area, nine with his favoured right foot, three with his left and one header. If Navarro finishes the season as the Primeira Liga top scorer, it will be the first time since 2009 that the top scorer has not played for one of Os Tres Grandes, Benfica, Porto and Sporting. The last player to achieve this feat was Nenê, the Brazilian forward who plundered 20 goals for Nacional, pipping the likes of Óscar Cardozo and Liedson to the top scorer award.
Os Gilistas are currently 10th in the league with 29 points but are just five points off Arouca in 6th. They are also coming into form at the business end of the season, having won three of their last four matches and are unbeaten in their last five.