With their wingers often struggling this season, Manchester United have been linked with 22-year-old Braga and Portugal winger Rafa Silva off and on for some time. Now, though, the Mirror and Star believe they face stiff competition from Liverpool, who have reportedly joined the race for the young winger.
The right-rooted left winger has established himself as one of the first names on Braga’s teamsheet over the past two seasons, scoring 14 goals and 14 assists in 87 games in that time. He has also earned 10 Portuguese caps along the way, though all have come in friendlies and he hasn’t played in the current round of Euro qualifiers.
A speedy, diminutive winger, Silva does his best work down the touchline and cutting in onto his stronger right foot, though in a pinch he’s capable of playing anywhere in support of the striker. He is a technically gifted player, but his reading of the game and his passing vision, while not a liability, remains a work in progress.
All told, he’s a skilled young player with a not insignificant upside, though it won’t be clear to Liverpool fans that he’s a clear upgrade on the returning Lazar Markovic. With an overabundance of more central attackers and rumours linking them with Mario Gotze, it also isn’t clear that winger is high on Jürgen Klopp’s shopping list.
So far under Klopp, Liverpool have appeared content to play a fairly narrow formation, with players like James Milner, Adam Lallana, and Philippe Coutinho in nominally wide roles. With the biggest names being linked with Liverpool moves fitting a similar mould, it’s fair to wonder where a player like Silva would fit in.
Still, Silva is clearly a talent, and if Liverpool’s apparent embrace of narrow attacking formations and width through overlapping fullbacks were to be reconsidered, the club could certainly do a lot worse. Right now, though, it’s a link that seems largely speculative and United seem the more likely destination.