In his two seasons at Bayer Leverkusen, Brazilian left-back Wendell has become one of the hottest young properties in the Bundesliga. Catalan newspaper SPORT have linked incoming Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola with a move for the player who has gained many admirers during his time in Germany. Recently he had admitted that he would “walk to Madrid” should Real Madrid, one of the clubs rumoured to be interested, make a formal offer for him.
Roger Schmidt’s side paid just £5.2million for the defender in 2014, and his performances in Germany have caught the eye of “more than one” of Europe’s elite – according to Wendell’s agent, Christian Butcher- and he would be expected to fetch over £25million this summer should a bidding war break out. Wendell was originally a product of the infamous Gremio football academy which has produced the likes of Ronaldinho and Lucas Leiva in recent times.
City’s move for the twenty-two year old would represent the club’s recent philosophy of purchasing young talent with the credentials of becoming world-class players. It’s difficult to remember a time in recent history that City have had a world-class left-back capable of covering their defensive issues as well as becoming an attacking threat. Wayne Bridge, Aleksandar Kolarov and Javier Garrido have all been purchased for big money and all came with great potential. I don’t think it would be harsh to say they have have failed to stamp their mark on the left-back position.
Wendell has helped Leverkusen to qualify for next season’s Champions League which may make an potential deal difficult to negotiate. Under Roger Schmidt, Leverkusen’s high-pressing tactics have enabled Wendell to bomb forward and attack opposition defensives with great ease. Unlike many modern day full-backs, Wendell’s strongest attributes are those in a defensive area near his own box rather than the opposition’s box.
Unlike many of this compatriots, Wendell’s weakest qualities are those in attack. Despite being labelled an attacking full-back, he has only been involved in one goal this season which was an assist in the UEFA Champions League against AS Roma. His final ball and rash decision making at times can be called into questioning. Eleven yellow cards and one red card during Bayer’s domestic season identifies with the Brazilian’s lack of mental strength at times.
For his faults in an attacking concept, Wendell’s solidity in defence has been ever-present during his time in Germany. With the fast paced, high-pressing, largely intense game that is present in the Bundesliga, Wendell has held his own on numerous occassions against some of the Bundesliga’s best wingers. His impressive pace and well-timed interceptions have established him as one of the finest young players in Europe at the minute. As well as this, his quick-feet and dribbling ability cause havoc when his lung bursting runs hit full momentum.
Physically Wendell may not be Hulk Hogan, but for someone so small he rarely gets bullied out of possession or allow his man to turn and run in behind the Bayer defence.
People may be drawing up an image of who the Brazilian’s attributes are alike and the best example would be Ashley Cole. A small, strong and quick dribbler, Cole never allowed his defensive responsibilites to suffer when he would burst forward into the opposition’s half, and rarely allow the opposition to find space behind him. Should he find the ability to deliever an end product when attacking, then there’s no denying what sort of player he may become under a manager like Pep Guardiola. At the age of twenty-two whether it be at City or any other European giant, Wendell has the potential to become one of the game’s finest full-backs.