Fabio Silva: The expert take on Wolves' club-record signing
Wolves have announced the club-record signing of Portuguese wonderkid Fabio Silva - get the expert take on the youngster here!
We spoke with Portuguese football experts, Rui Miguel Martins and Alex Goncalves, to get a proper look at Wolves new signing.
See what they had to say here!
How much of a talent is Fabio Silva, he seems very highly rated?
RMM: He is essentially a prodigy.
Those who follow the Portuguese game have been hearing about him for almost two years now.
This was confirmed when he became the youngest player to make his league debut for the club in August 2019. In October, he became the youngest goalscorer for the club.
AG: The term generational talent is generally overused, but it is entirely applicable when discussing Fabio Silva.
It’s easy to forget that he is still just 18 years of age, as he has been on the Portuguese scene and impressing at various different levels for so long now.
There’s a huge ceiling when it comes to his potential, and the fact that he already comes with, albeit sparse, senior experience both in the Portuguese top flight and the Europa League despite his youth is testament to how highly rated he is.
There will be a lot of disappointment amongst Porto fans that he’s being sold so early on – Porto are used to seeing players leave at a relatively young age before they peak, but this is setting a new bar.
At youth level, he has been stunning, pretty much at every age category. It’s now just a case of translating that extraordinary potential and ability onto the senior stage which, as yet, has not really happened.
What kind of player is the youngster, where does he favour playing?
RMM: He is firmly a striker, who will play down the middle.
He is not like Anthony Martial or countryman Diogo Jota, who will go out wide and overlap constantly. But that's okay.
AG: He’s a goalscorer, unquestionably – or at least he has been throughout his youth career.
At senior level, you look at his record this season of 3 goals in 24 games and that could be of concern, but ultimately the vast majority of those appearances came as late cameo appearances, so it is a misleading statistic, much like was the case with Raul Jimenez at Benfica, whose goals per game ratio looked relatively poor, but his goals per minute were actually quite brilliant.
He plays in that out-and-out striker role, but can also operate just behind or alongside a teammate up top.
He offers great intricate link up play as well, which will allow him to bring the wingers and roaming wingbacks into the game, so isn’t just a poacher and lethal goalscorer, but a good footballer too.
Who would you compare Fabio Silva to in the Premier League?
RMM: He kind of reminds me of Oliver Giroud with more potential, with all due respect to the World Cup winner.
He has good size, awareness and a good work rate. And, despite his childlike appearance and demeanour, he has the ruthlessness and composure needed to score goals.
He is also clinical in front of goal. He doesn't need too many chances to score, at least this is the case at youth level.
AG: I guess you could say there are some similarities to his new teammate Raul Jimenez in terms of the fact that he is not only a very accomplished finisher, but also connects with the players around him very effectively and is willing to roam from his position and come deeper at times to collect the ball and get more involved in team proceedings.
Perhaps a better comparison would be someone not currently playing in England though - Edinson Cavani. Not in terms of quality yet, of course, but he too is excellent in front of goal, able to serve as a poacher at times but also chip in with some quality goals, and both offer great movement off the ball.
They are also both strong dribblers and offer very good link-up play. So I think there are similarities there.
What are his strengths and weaknesses?
RMM: I wouldn't say he has any real weaknesses.
I would say that he still lacks the experience to play regularly in the Premier League, so I believe Wolves supporters will need to temper their expectations somewhat.
Nuno, a former Porto manager who probably has known him since he was a pre-teen, will work him in slowly.
AG: Strengths obviously include his finishing both in and around the box, and his link-up play, but he’s also an accomplished dribbler, he will work hard for the team, and he’s an intelligent footballer, particularly for his age. He has a good understanding of the game.
He’s also proven to be good at holding up the ball and pretty good physically at youth level, though I guess this will also be his weakness, at least initially, in the Premier League.
Showing good strength and physicality for the youth side is one thing, but at senior level, he may well struggle with this aspect of the game early on, even if it does go on to become another one of his better traits later on. After all, he is still just 18 years of age and lacking in senior experience.
And that’s certainly the major weakness, his lack of top level game time.
It’s all well and good being one of the greatest youth players Portugal have ever seen, but then it’s a case of transitioning that ability to the senior team and managing to kick on and take it to the next level.
I have very little doubt he’ll make the transition easily, and his experience at Porto will have helped, but you can never be absolutely sure.
Are Wolves getting a good deal for the £35m club-record price being touted, in your opinion?
RMM: Consider that João Félix went to Atletico Madrid last summer for £113 million. Fábio Silva only has slightly over a dozen senior appearances and three goals. Bare in mind those are mostly late substitutions.
This is an investment for the future. And, given his potential, his future looks very bright. And pandemic aside, £35million isn't very much for a top half Premier League club like Wolves.
I just hope the club continues its upward trajectory. In Portugal, we have seen some quality players leave too soon in recent years. João Félix is potentially that. But, I would also look at Diogo Dalot who left Porto for Manchester United two summers ago.
But, I believe in Nuno. He gives youngsters a chance. Wolves is a good place for him to grow into a professional.
AG: It’s one of those that, when you look at it objectively, probably does look a bit steep at £35million, when in reality it is a very good deal.
The fact that he has under 1,000 minutes of senior football and just 3 senior goals to his name could, understandably, make this look like a pretty bewildering sum of money to be spending.
But the fact is he is just 18 years of age, he’s the youngest goalscorer ever for Porto, and their youngest appearance maker, and Wolves are not just paying for someone that can offer something considerable to their team right now, but they are paying for a player that can serve them as one of the greatest strikers in the world for the next decade and a half, if he isn’t sold on for a very healthy profit before that.
Even if it took him two or three years to fully adapt to Premier League football – which I absolutely do not think will be the case – he’ll still be just 21 years of age, with his entire career ahead.
The market today means that buying young stars like Fabio Silva on the cheap is almost impossible, so I think it’s great value for money, and Porto fans will be disappointed that he’s not going for more, as he was handed a massive release clause and this doesn’t come close to it.
Do you think Fabio Silva has what it takes to step up and perform in the Premier League?
RMM: As mentioned, I think it will take some time. Nuno will take him under his wing. And the young striker will have several of his countrymen to help him get settled in England and integrate into the squad.
AG: I really do, I find it difficult to envisage him not making the step up relatively easily.
He’ll undoubtedly be used as a backup this season, and maybe next season too, which is quite perfect. He can be eased into the league, safe in the knowledge that Wolves have a top class striker already leading the line.
We’ve seen Nuno do it at Wolves with other players, such as Pedro Neto. He was slowly integrated into the team, frequently given time to impress off the bench, and he’s really performed.
The price tag gives the impression that he should be playing week in, week out in the first team, though I think more likely he’ll be getting plenty of minutes off the bench as Wolves prepare to make him their star striker further down the line.