In this series, we take a look at some of the most interesting young talents in the world of football. Next up is Rosario Central’s 17-year-old midfielder Facundo Buonanotte
Brighton & Hove Albion are no strangers to being ahead of the curve when it comes to scouting and acquiring young talents from around the globe. Their newest recruit to arrive in January might yet prove to be the most exciting of the lot as teenage midfielder Facundo Buonanotte switches the Argentine footballing hotbed of Rosario for the South Coast.
Yet to turn 18 by the end of December, Buonanotte has already racked up 33 appearances in 2022 and provided the long-suffering Rosario Central supporters plenty of reasons for cheer. The yellow-and-blue half of the city that has produced the likes of Angel Di Maria and Giovani Lo Celso may perhaps view Buonanotte as the most promising and for that reason negotiations were drawn out.
Eventually, money for another cash-strapped Argentine club proved impossible to resist and the Seagulls were able to land one of the country's brightest prospects.
An elegant left footer, Buonanotte has largely been used on the right of the midfield but as his heat map suggests there is an underlying positional versatility to the teenager. The player himself would state his preferred position is a number 10 despite operating so often wide, while former youth coaches speak in the highest regard of games where Buonanotte operated in a deeper-lying position.
Certainly, his skill set would allow for such changes and as his career progresses it would be no surprise to see a more central role. 77.6% passing accuracy perhaps doesn’t leap off the page but Buonanotte takes risks with the ball and looks to make things happen so this figure barely drops (74.8%) when passing into the final third.
It is however his dribbling ability that really catches the eye. Short and quite slight in stature, Buonanotte’s rapid shifts of direction and great balance enable him to skip away from challenges and despite not being the biggest physically the youngster bounces off defenders.
Around the 18-yard box is where this is most dangerous and Buonanotte has provided Central with a cutting edge to their attack during a difficult period that saw the club have to rely heavily on academy products.
6.95 dribbles per 90 is favorable across the league but for a teenager playing his first games in professional football is outstanding.
Deeper in midfield Buonanotte’s ability on the ball is also beneficial. Not only does his first touch and awareness make him relatively press resistance but his dribbling from deep enables him to relieve pressure and break opposition lines.
This can quickly turn defense into attack and Buonanotte can be particularly effective on the counter. 2.69 progressive runs per 90 advanced Central and for a side often ceding possession allowed the Canalla to transition rapidly.
His pace, though perhaps not blistering in a straight line, is deceptive and he is capable of breaking beyond the striker to pose a goal threat.
It is perhaps the change of pace, the explosive stop-start that is most effective and in that specific regard that led former manager Carlos Tevez to make comparisons with Lionel Messi.
Comparing any young player to arguably the greatest in any regard is only likely to distort expectations but where Tevez was accurate was that you don’t come across many as good as Buonanotte at his age.
And aside from that talent, there is also a real industry. A hard-working, buzzing presence who can win the ball high up the pitch.
3.95 interceptions per 90 and 6.79 recoveries with 61.4% of those coming in the opposition half help create dangerous situations.
Still far from prolific but four goals in 24 appearances during the league part of the season was a good return. In a side that struggled for goals, Buonanotte showed a burgeoning eye and certainly never lacked the confidence to try his luck from anywhere.
A great striker of the ball, Buonanotte often stood over set pieces but whether operating off the right, through the middle, or from the left, regardless of distance, the jewel of Central’s academy could test the goalkeeper or score.
This ability even in a relatively limited sample size has indicated that Brighton have again got themselves a top-tier talent. Interest from elsewhere was there but again the Premier League side had stolen a march on the competition.
What might be undeniable money for Rosario Central could prove to be a drop in the ocean for what Buonanotte is potentially worth in the future.