In this series, we take a look at some of the most interesting young talents in the world of football. Next up is Red Bull Bragantino’s 23-year old forward Artur.

Red Bull’s presence and investment in the footballing world over the last 15 years has been a divisive but successful model, with RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg quickly becoming part of the Champions League furniture.

However, a lesser-known member of the energy drink giant’s family, RB Bragantino, is beginning to spread its wings in Brazil.

Hailing from the town of Braganca - better known for its sausages than its football - Red Bull began sponsoring the side in 2019 before fully taking over the following year after their promotion to the top flight.

Bragantino’s upward trajectory has continued in the form of a fantastic run to the final of the Copa Sudamericana, where they will face Athletico Paranaense next month in an all-Brazilian showdown.

The star man in their continental campaign has been diminutive 23-year-old forward Artur, who has scored 7 goals and made 4 assists in 12 games, earning a call up to the Brazil national team in the process.

Originally from Fortaleza in the northeast of the country, Artur moved to Palmeiras as a 16-year-old. Loans to Novorizontino, Londrina and Bahia followed but he didn’t do enough to break into the star-studded Verdão team and Bragantino swooped to bring him to the Estádio Nabi Abi Chedid.

Artur (highlighted) makes a diagonal run from the right and ghosts in at the back post to turn the ball into the net.

A live-wire forward who typically plays off the right flank, cutting inside onto his favored left, 2021 has been a breakthrough year with another 7 goals and 5 assists in the league to go with his Sudamericana haul.

With his low center of gravity, explosive acceleration and close control, Artur thrives in 1-v-1 situations where he can use his dribbling skills to burst past players. This season in the league he has averaged 5.11 dribbles per 90 with a 57.69% success rate, as well as registering 3.39 progressive runs per 90.

His trademark stepover allows him to get the ball out of his feet and away from his opponent. Even though his propensity to cut back onto his left might seem to be inevitable and predictable, it doesn’t make it any easier to stop it, even if you know what’s coming.

Artur feigns to go on his favored left before breezing past the defender and making a b-line towards the penalty box.
Now faced by a second defender, Artur makes light work of him with a shimmy onto his left before delivering a pacey cross to the back post for his teammate to head in the opener.

It’s not just the ability to progress the ball with his dribbling skills and pace that makes Artur so effective but also his clever movement and the intelligent spaces he drifts into. As well as driving into the half spaces from the right, Artur is great at finding space in between the lines where he can be at his most dangerous.

Artur, in a more central area, drops into the space between the lines to receive the ball.
Artur is quickly pressed but his first touch, spatial awareness and close control allow him to beat the press and dribble towards the edge of the area.
Despite the close attention of various Flamengo players, Artur manages to manufacture some space and send a spectacular arrowed strike into the top corner for a valuable equalizer.

Artur often crops up in positions more traditionally associated with a number 10 or playmaker and has displayed his great shooting ability from the edge of the area. He is also not afraid to try his luck, as demonstrated by the fact he ranks in the top 5 for most shots in the Brasileirao this season.

Part of what has elevated him to the next level this year has been the goals he has added to his game, with 16 in all competitions, and has proved himself capable of scoring not only spectacular strikes but also in high-stakes moments too.

In the final moments of a tight game against Rosario Central, Artur leads a counter-attack and, spotting the keeper off his line, launches a shot from the halfway line.
Artur executes the effort perfectly with just the right amount of curve and wins the tie in spectacular fashion.
Artur once again shows his ability to score in clutch moments as, with very minimal backlift, he curls a well-placed effort into the top corner against high-flying Palmeiras.

However, it’s not just his goals that make him such a threat as he weighs with as many assists in an average season. Blessed with great vision, Artur can also slip in incisive through balls through to his teammates, as proved by his 11 assists in all competitions. What’s more, no player has played more key passes in the Sudamericana than Artur this year.

Artur picks up the ball, luring the IDV center-back out to engage and creating a huge gap between the defenders, before slipping a reverse ball in behind the defense into the path of the striker who has curved his run to stay onside.
Again Artur displays his playmaking ability, this time from a deeper position. He clips the ball over the static defense for the midfielder breaking beyond the lines for a goal-scoring opportunity.

His crossing ability is also very good, using his left foot to bend dangerous in-swinging balls to the back post, and he has averaged 3.1 crosses per 90 in the Brasileirao this year.

Artur’s performances will no doubt be crucial if RB Bragatino are to cap a hugely successful year with a first piece of continental silverware and, with several European clubs already showing a keen interest, it would be the perfect coda before an inevitable departure.

Much like former teammate Claudinho, who earned a move to Zenit, Artur’s exploits will no doubt pave the way for many other young South American youngsters to use RB Bragantino as a launch pad, whilst shaking up the established order in the Brazilian game too.

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