Jose Miguel Saraiva writes a detailed scout report about Eintracht Frankfurt’s striker, Gonçalo Paciência.
For those who have been attentively observing the Portuguese national team in the last years, it should be particularly obvious the lack of capable strikers which has affected the team. In fact, Portugal has been suffering from such drought since players like Pauleta and Nuno Gomes retired. With the recent “mutation” of Cristiano Ronaldo into an almost true striker and the discovery of the talented André Silva, that problem appeared to have been solved or, at least, minimised. However, with the best player in the world coming to the end of his career and given that André Silva has not been at such a great level last season at A.C. Milan, it is time to search for valid solutions, and Porto’s young yet ever postponed talent, Gonçalo Paciência seems to be rising to a good level.
Who is Gonçalo Paciência?
Gonçalo Mendes Paciência was born in Porto, Portugal, on the 1st of August of 1994. He is the son of the Portuguese manager Domingos Paciência, who was Sporting Lisbon manager in 2011 and who led SC Braga to the Europa League final in 2010/11. Gonçalo Paciência started playing football when he was 9 years old, in the FC Porto youth teams. In the season of 2009/10 he went to play on loan for the third-tier Portuguese club Padroense, having then returned to FC Porto. In the season of 2012/13, in the FC Porto U19 team, he made 18 appearances and scored 9 goals. In the seasons of 2013/14 and 2014/15, Gonçalo Paciência played in the FC Porto senior B team, and in those seasons altogether he made 37 appearances and scored 14 goals. In the 2014/15 season however, he was promoted to the FC Porto A team, making 4 appearances and scoring 1 goal.
In the season of 2015/16, he played on loan for Académica, but scored only 4 goals in 30 appearances. After his experience in Académica, he was loaned 3 more times to other teams, such as Olympiakos, where he made only 1 appearance, Rio Ave, where he spent the second half of the 2016/17 season, making 15 appearances and only scoring 1 goal.
In the beginning of the 2017/18 season, he went to play on loan for the first-tier Portuguese club Vitória FC, where he really stood out, having scored 11 goals in 25 appearances. In the League’s Cup final, he scored Vitória’s goal against Sporting Lisbon, having been chosen as Man of the Match in spite of his team defeat.
FC Porto watched him closely in the beginning of the 2017/18 season and in January of 2018, after Gonçalo’s majestic performance against Sporting Lisbon in the League Cup final, he was called back to the FC Porto A team. Also in the League Cup, Gonçalo Paciência was the top scorer of the competition, having scored 5 goals, an average of 1 goal per game. It is important to mention that his team faced some of the Portuguese best teams, such as Benfica and SC Braga, as well as Sporting Lisbon in the final.
In July 2018 he signed for the German team Eintracht Frankfurt.
What is his style of play?
Gonçalo Paciência is a very different and special striker. He has very particular skills, which make him a player that tends to be somewhat unsuccessful when playing in a certain tactical system that doesn’t favour his best skills. In fact, in order to take the best out of Gonçalo Paciência, the team needs to have a very specific tactical system and style of play, or else Gonçalo may not be able to show his full capacity.
I don’t mean this as a criticism, on the contrary. I believe that Gonçalo Paciências’s true wonder is that of being a truly special striker, one that may not be as fast and athletic as, for example, Lukaku or Aubameyang, or even his former-teammates Aboubakar and Marega (FC Porto’s wonder pair of forwards), or as lethal and instinctive as those famous strikers we know, like, for example, Harry Kane or Ibrahimovic, or, in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, Bas Dost, but is a forward that gives some very different solutions to his team. Gonçalo Paciência is a player that enjoys having the ball, working as main reference in quick offensive transitions but also in attacking build-up situations. To my mind, he will hardly ever be that type of striker who scores 30 goals in a season, but whose main skill is to decisively contribute to his team’s attacking processes, tactically speaking. I find it hard to find a famous striker to compare Paciência with, but I believe it is fair to state that Gonçalo Paciência is somehow like Benzema.
What are his strengths?
Gonçalo Paciência is, above all, really technically gifted. His technical skills are unusual to find in a true striker, and until December of 2017, he was the second player with more successful dribbles in the Primeira Liga, only after FC Porto’s Brahimi. His technical skills make him, as stated before, an excellent player to participate in the team’s offensive manoeuvers, especially in attacking build-up processes from the defence.
Gonçalo Paciência is also a very intelligent player, more intelligent than most, and that allows him to be able to create several scoring opportunities for his teammates. A player’s intelligence is probably his best skill, as it allows him to comprehend the tactical behaviour of his team and the opposite team, and it often disguises some flaws such player might have. Gonçalo Paciência stands out especially because he is a very intelligent forward, with great technical skills and also physically very strong.
What are his weaknesses?
Gonçalo Paciência has a few aspects on which he should focus and improve.
Firstly, he lacks pace. Nevertheless, this is perhaps his least important flaw, as there are some slow strikers that score amazing amounts of goals. This lack of velocity has maybe contributed to him not being so valued and recognised as he would deserve to, given that the lack of pace means, more often than not, lack of exuberance. I should point out, though, that for the type of play Gonçalo is proficient in, not being a fast player does not bring him much harm, as he is able to compensate with some other interesting features, as highlighted above.
Secondly, Gonçalo Paciência lacks that lethal instinct to be where a striker needs to be in order to score a goal, meaning he is not a very instinctive striker inside the box, or, in other words, he is not that kind of striker we often call an “animal in penalty area”. Also, Gonçalo Paciência lacks some consistency in his performances. I believe he has been improving on this aspect though, as his 2017/18 season was pretty steadily successful whilst he was in Vitória FC, before being brought back to FC Porto, where he had no room to be a frequent option for the starting XI.
The world should lay eyes on this remarkable and refined Portuguese forward, as he is definitely going to become one of the best strikers in the world.
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