Allan Rodrigues de Souza: The lowdown on Liverpool’s new Brazilian youngster

Allan Rodrigues de Souza’s move to Liverpool was completed at the end of the summer transfer window, and here Jack Lusby profiles the youngster.

Football - Liverpool FC Preseason Tour 2015 - HJK Helsinki v Liverpool FC

Allan Rodrigues de Souza made his move from Brasileirao side Internacional to Liverpool permanent at the end of the summer transfer window, with the club confirming his arrival.

The 18-year-old joins the Reds after a summer spent training with Brendan Rodgers’ side at Melwood.

As part of Allan’s transfer, the midfielder has joined Finnish outfit Seinajoen Jalkapallokerho on loan until January.

But just who is Allan?

Here’s the lowdown on the latest addition to Liverpool’s Brazilian contingent.

 

Allan Rodrigues de Souza

Football - Liverpool FC Preseason Tour 2015 - HJK Helsinki v Liverpool FC

Even in typically reliable Brazilian circles, Allan is something of an unknown entity.

BBC Sport’s Tim Vickery, an expert in Brazilian football, professed his ignorance as to the midfielder’s ability when questioned prior to his official signing at Liverpool.

The Reds’ own Lucas Leiva also claims to have little knowledge of Allan’s ability.

“I know Allan,” he is said to have told Brazilian radio station Radio Guaiba. “I know he has little professional experience.

“But if Liverpool are signing him, he has quality.”

The Reds have been improving their youth recruitment network over the summer, with Bobby Adekanye and Brooks Lennon being drafted in after the scouting net was cast wide across Europe and North America, and Allan’s arrival is further proof of this.

The 18-year-old came to Liverpool’s attention as Neil Critchley took his under-18s side to Indonesia to take part in the Frenz International Cup in January.

Critchley described the youth cup as “a very prestigious tournament with some top teams,” one of which being Allan’s Inter.

Born in Porto Alegre, Allan rose slowly through the ranks at Inter, but Goal Brazil’s deputy editor Rodrigo Calvozzo claims he “was always treated by Internacional as one of the most important players in the team.”

Still “virtually unknown,” according to Goal’s William Schneider, Allan spent the summer integrating with his new team-mates—aided by the presence of Lucas, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino.

Allan was pictured alongside his Brazilian compatriots and fellow first-team players such as Emre Can and Alberto Moreno at a barbecue hosted by Lucas this summer.

The ambassadorial quality of Lucas will help Allan transition into life at Liverpool, but what can he offer Rodgers’ side on the pitch?

 

Style of Play, Strengths and Weaknesses

Allan Rodrigues de Souza

Allan follows the likes of Leandro Damiao, Fred, Oscar, Alexandre Pato, Nilmar and Luiz Adriano through the Inter ranks, but his playing style is far removed from his more attacking compatriots.

A central midfielder by trade, Allan is primarily left-footed and employs a strong passing range, honed with time spent as a deep-lying playmaker in Brazil.

But given more license to roam by Inter youth coach Ricardo Cobalchini towards the end of his Porto Alegre spell, Allan has proven himself a useful box-to-box midfielder with promising attacking instincts.

His performances for Cobalchini’s side in the Frenz International Cup showed this quality.

Wearing the No. 8 shirt, Allan spearheaded Inter’s tournament-winning run, including a victories over Valencia and Porto and tough test against Argentine rivals Estudiantes in the final, with the midfielder captaining his side to a 3-2 win.

“Internacional and Estudiantes play good football. Our styles are almost the same, aggressive and very physical,” Cobalchini said before the game.

“That is our brand of football.”

As Coutinho and Firmino prove, the Brazilian game has developed in recent years, with a more robust, physical approach allied with that traditional Samba flair.

Throughout the tournament, Allan showcased the aggression and quality that Cobalchini expected.

Calvozzo describes him as “a very calm player [whose] talent belies his teenage years.

“He is very technical, and the left-footed star likes to play long passes that generally seek the fast attackers ahead.”

His passing range was on show as Inter defeated Porto 2-0 in the semi-final, but Allan also showed his tenacity and tackling ability in midfield, as well as his set-piece prowess and the ability to link up play on the edge of the penalty area.

Perhaps his finest moment of that clash came as he lofted a long-range strike over the Porto goalkeeper, after nipping the ball from the opposition in midfield.

It was a captain’s performance that announced Allan as a promising talent, but as testimony from Calvozzo and Paulo Freitas—Football Manager’s head researcher for Brazilian football—suggests, there is a long way to go yet for the midfielder.

Calvozzo highlighted a lack of pace in Allan’s game, with the youngster instead having to rely on his reading on the game to suit the box-to-box role that Freitas envisions.

Interestingly, Freitas also describes Allan as “not regarded among the most promising players” in Brazil, also suggesting that “[his] finishing isn’t anything special.”

Liverpool clearly saw enough in Allan to sanction his £500,000 transfer this summer however, and now Rodgers and his academy staff must plot his route into the first team.

 

Where Does Allan Fit in at Liverpool?

HELSINKI, FINLAND - Friday, July 31, 2015: Liverpool's Pedro Chirivella, Joe Maguire, Ryan Kent, Allan Rodrigues de Sousa, Martin Skrtel and Philippe Coutinho Correia after a friendly match against HJK Helsinki at the Olympic Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rodgers’ midfield is perhaps the only area that can be deemed overstocked.

With Lucas, Coutinho, Firmino, Can, Joe Allen Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Adam Lallana, Joao Carlos Teixeira and Jordan Rossiter all able to perform in various roles in the middle of the park, Allan joins a group of high-potential academy stars in competition for a role in the future.

Cameron Brannagan, Pedro Chirivella, Adam Phillips and Yan Dhanda can all be considered rivals for a position in Rodgers’ midfield over the coming seasons, too.

But with experienced gained in a harsh footballing environment in Finland at Seinajoen Jalkapallokerho, Allan will be hoping to gain an edge on his fellow youth stars.

Happily, the Brazilian’s skill set suggests he could be moulded into a variety of roles at Liverpool.

His passing range and defensive instinct could project a deep-lying role at the base of a midfield diamond, for example, while his box-to-box performances for Inter hint at the possibility of a more advanced position.

Though his lack of pace may hold him back, his close control and link-up play could even lend themselves to a playmaking role similar to that of Coutinho and Teixeira.

This versatility will give Allan an advantage in moving into Rodgers’ first team in the future. But, with a short spell in Finland to come first, there are many challenges ahead for Allan upon his move to Merseyside.

Far from the finished article, Allan’s ability is abundant but raw, and will need to be nurtured if he is to find a long-term role at Liverpool.

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