Assuming there are no surprises in the medicals, Marcos Antonio will be the first Lazio signing of the summer, so what will he bring to Maurizio Sarri’s squad?
The 22-year-old Brazilian midfielder is coming off an important three-year spell with Shakhtar Donetsk, where he developed significantly and gained key experience in the Champions League. He rose to prominence in the Ukrainian side’s incredible 3-2 away win over Real Madrid back in October 2020, attracting the attention of many across Europe.
Marcos Antonio is an agile, small and tricky defensive midfielder, being hugely effective in tight spaces. Standing at only 1.66m tall, he is not physically imposing but his low centre of gravity makes him shine at slipping past his opponents with the ball glued to his feet.
The 22-year-old has a beautiful first touch and this, combined with his natural ability to shield the ball well, means he has no issue receiving possession even when suffocated by the opposition. Marcos Antonio is tactically smart and comfortable progressing play up the pitch, spraying incisive and grounded short passes from deep in midfield to kick off transitions.
The former Shakhtar Donetsk man makes good decisions on the pitch and plays an important role linking up play from the defence, being more of a regista than a true defensive midfielder. This isn’t to suggest that he is poor defensively, and in fact he positions himself very well in defensive transitions, although sometimes he’s known to throw out a hopeful tackle.
He doesn’t play pinpoint long balls, however, and sometimes can take too long on the ball, so sometimes help will be needed if he’s caught isolated. The 22-year-old is also majorly one-footed, relying almost exclusively on his right foot, so being forced onto his left will limit his game.
Marcos Antonio seems like the perfect player for a Sarri team and his flexibility and tactical intelligence means he should have no trouble adapting to the quick, attacking 4-3-3 system used by Lazio.