A rumoured target for Claudio Lotito and Igli Tare, 23-year-old ‘Gelson Dany Batalha Martins‘ – or simply Gelson Martins – has become a hot and trendy topic as of late.
“Seven Sporting Lisbon players rescinded their own contracts in response to an attack by fans in which a group of 50 people attacked the players and staff following a loss in the last match day which saw Sporting not make the Champions League”, stated the Portuguese Players’ Union. Four members of Portugal’s World Cup squad – Rui Patricio, William Carvalho, Gelson Martins, and Bruno Fernandes – have joined Ruben Ribeiro, Bas Dost and Daniel Podence in leaving. This makes all 7 players free agents, with their future’s set to be decided this summer transfer window.
Today, Steven Moore will dive into an analysis of the Portuguese man, scouting his playing style – from traits and strengths – and how he would fit into this current biancocelesti side.
Who is Gelson Martins?
Born in Praia, Cape Verde, Martins started his footballing career in Portugal with Futebol Benfica, before joining Sporting Clube de Portugal in 2010. Here he remained, earning promotion to the first team in 2015 after 5 successfully seasons with Sporting Clube de Portugal B. Now 23 years of age, he has made over 90 appearances for the club’s first team.
From the Portuguese Primeira Liga, to the Taça de Portugal, to the UEFA Champions and Europa League, Martins is coming off a very busy season in which he participated in 46 matches, scoring 11 goals and setting up 9 for Sporting. His value has been exponentially increasing since 2015 with his consistent encouraging performances, and his current market value now sits at £31.50m. Whatever club is able to agree personal terms and wages for this player, is certainly in for a bargain.
An attack-minded footballer, Gelson Martins is of top class quality. Right-footed, he has established his playing position on the right-wing, something that may seem odd to fans at first. This is because most fans and clubs assume the player will appear on the opposite wing to allow themselves to beat a defender and cut in for a shot towards goal. However, this is not the case for Gelson. Though the ability to play on both flanks, he likes to stay on the right-side of the pitch where he has excelled: he loves give and go’s and short simple passes, which is represented by his 83.8% pass success rate and take on his opponent.
Aforementioned, Martins is an incredible passer of the ball. Typically, he likes to keep the play as simple as possible as his side try to break-down the opponent – occasionally, he spots a run from his striker, wing-counterpart, or attacking midfielder and provides a great opportunity for a chance on goal.
His dribbling his essential to not only his success, but his team’s success: his skill creates the opening to make these through balls and passes for his teammates as he routinely takes on opponents and beats them more than 60% of the time (111 successful dribbles out of total 182). Keeping to his right foot only, he loves to spin-off the incoming defender by using his first touch off a pass, to flick the ball around the opponent. He also is very fond of the elastico, tricking defenders to think is going one way, but moving the opposite. He gives himself the opportunity to go on towards goal himself sometimes, and we see this with 63 total shots in all competitions.
This leads us to his next strength – his acceleration. His most valuable trait, Gelson’s pace and first few steps take him past the opponent virtually every time. With his dribbling, this is why the right-side of the pitch suits him so well – one or two quick touches, and he is gone down the flank, looking for a pass to one of his teammates. He also fancies hitting the ball behind the defender and chasing on to it, as no one can keep up to him – especially when he stutters for just a half-second, before taking flight.
Gelson Martins’s only weaknesses come down to his build – a height of 173 cm (5 ft 7 in) allows him to be pushed off the ball far too easy, and lose aerial battles often.
How would Gelson Martins fit in at Lazio?
Quite simply: a direct replacement, if not improvement, for Felipe Anderson. Both right-footed – both amazing dribblers – both extremely pacey – both 5 ft 7 in – both experienced – both young. One of the main reasons I see Martins as an improvement is due to the fact that he plays on an international level – allowing him to fully experience every aspect of football. The fact that he is a free agent also reinforces that statement, as wages are the only fee for the player.
Talking in terms of his place in the squad, his main position is on the wing, however, in Inzaghi’s 3-5-1-1, there is no “wing” position – the two outside positions are occupied by defenders or midfielders. We saw this past season that Anderson was used in the secondary striking role, allowing him to stay higher up the pitch, and roam from left-to-right without an issue, and this is the first position where Gelson Martins would be able to play – he would support Ciro Immobile, travelling into those wider areas of the pitch and providing for the striker. A faster and more lively option than current Spaniard Luis Alberto, he would give him a direct challenge for a starting 11 role. The second position that he would be able to play, would be as a striker. We have seen his ability to score multiple goals each season, and that is when he is on the wing – imagine pursuing long balls or through balls that have gotten past the back-line when he is up-top – Martins could be lethal and cause multiple issues for any club Lazio is put up against.
A terrific and exciting player, it is a long-shot to sign the Portuguese international in my personal opinion. With many other clubs thinking of the same potential signing, I do not think Lazio plays the right formation to see Gelson Martins firstly start in this Lazio side, and secondly excel. If Inzaghi is able to master a 4-3-3, or 4-2-3-1, and run it consistently along with his 3-5-1-1, I believe there would be hope in the side to play at maximum capacity and sign this player.