Current Premier League leaders Chelsea might be running away with it this season, but there is one area of weakness in Antonio Conte’s squad, and that’s the lack of back-up for striker Diego Costa.
Young Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi is the Blues’ only other recognised senior striker, but Conte has proven reluctant to trust the 23-year-old with leading Chelsea’s line. Batshuayi has made 16 substitute appearances so far this season but hasn’t started a single league game — even on the two occasions this term when Costa wasn’t available— and has yet to play more than 20 minutes in a single game outside of the cups.
For both of the games Costa was missing — a 3-0 home win over Bournemouth for which the Brazilian was suspended, and a 3-0 away victory over Leicester City for which he’d been dropped — Conte favoured Eden Hazard as the spearhead of the attack, supported by Willian and Pedro.
There is no indication that the Stamford Bridge club are thinking of giving up on the Belgian international yet, but they will have to bring in at least one additional forward to help with the challenge of competing in the Champions League again next season.
One such possibility that has emerged is that of Felipe Vizeu, Flamengo’s 19-year-old wonderkid who was attracted interest from a number of Europe’s top clubs after an impressive debut professional season.
A Versatile and Skillful Frontman
The Brazilian under-20 international had a stunning 2016, having been named the Player of the Tournament at the Sao Paulo Youth Cup and scoring five goals in 15 appearances as Flamengo finished third in the Brasileirão.
Four out of five of those goals were real poacher's efforts — scored either within or just on the edge of the six-yard box. However, the former América Mineiro youth player is also capable of playing out wide and creating for others.
In the sequence below, Vizeu picks up the ball out wide on Flamengo’s left wing, in what looks like a relatively safe area for their opponents.
Demonstrating his quick feet, he ghosts past the number 14, Leozão, with ease, before taking on and beating Luiz Paulo.
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This move ends with Vizeu pulling the ball back for Federico Mancuello on the penalty spot who puts it away.
His versatility in being able to play across Conte’s front three will certainly be attractive to the Italian manager, offering cover not just for Diego Costa, but in the wide positions as well.
Making his mark on the domestic and global stage
The Mengão’s starlet has been doing it on the international stage too, recently starring for Brazil’s under-20 side with four goals in the 2017 South American Youth Football Championship — the highlight of which was a stunning effort from outside of the penalty area against Venezuela.
It is thought the Premier League champions-elect will have to compete with the likes of Juventus and Borussia Dortmund for the youngster’s signature this summer. Whichever clubs do make a move, they will have to match the £25.7million buy-out clause in his contract. Considering Vizeu’s current deal runs until 2020, the Brazilian Série A side are under no pressure to sell for less.
We’ll have to wait and see whether Chelsea are prepared to make an inexperienced, if admittedly very talented, Felipe Vizeu one of the most expensive teenagers in history.