What do Real Madrid have in Eder Militao?
Background image: NibasH, CC BY-SA 3.0
Real Madrid made a proactive start to facilitate Zinedine Zidane's appointment. Los Blancos secured Brazilian defender Eder Militao's services from Porto on a six-year deal for a £43 million fee.
A product of the fabled Sao Paulo youth academy, Militao joined Porto last summer. In less than nine months, he adapted brilliantly to European football. Porto and Benfica are on level terms in the Primeira Liga. Benfica edge OS Dragoes on goal difference. Porto boast the league's best defence, conceding only 17 goals from 27 games. Militao is largely responsible. His presence allows manager Sergio Conceicao to create a stable back four.
Style of play
Militao is a modern defender who can play as a centre or right back. He also played in defensive midfield in Brazil. Real Madrid won't avail themselves of his versatility, however, because he is weak going forward. Zidane expects his fullbacks and defensive mids to support the attack. Aptly named, Militao will stay behind to hold the fort.
Miitao's defensive skill-set is rich. He is strong physically, rarely caught on the wrong side of his man, anticipates and can pass with either foot. He carries South American instincts to his game. Brave, passionate and calm. He rarely makes mistakes and rises to the occasion. Against Schalke in the Champions League and Sporting CP in domestic competition, he was Themistokles at Thermopylae only his defending when repeatedly outnumbered led to victory rather than defeat.
Militao's 1v1 defending is superb, his stamina and pace strong enough to resist opposing counterattacks. His footwork is neat, no last-ditch lunges and his aerial ability makes him a force in both boxes.
As noted, the Selecao struggles on the ball against teams who press high. Opposition forwards who close gaps can force him into mistakes. A UEFA Golden Boy finalist, he needs to work on his positioning outside the box. He often plays opponents onside.
Real's centre-half options are too limited. Sergio Ramos is 33. Raphael Varane seeks an exit. Jesus Vallejo and Nacho Fernandez are far less reliable and highly prone to injuries. This transfer came at the right time.
His arrival along with Rodrigo Goes and Vinicius Junior demonstrates Fiorentino Perez's new affection for Brazilian youngsters.
Depending on further signings to bolster the defence or in the event Varane is merely angling for a wage increase, Zizou can shift him out to right back to close out matches. The Blancos have Alvaro Odriozola and Dani Carvajal as options but Militao's solid defensive skillset could curtail the Merengues propensity for surrendering bad goals because their wide players are caught up the pitch.
Militao isn't Virgil van Dijk. Watch his highlight reels, though, and you'll come away thinking he'll succeed at the Santiago Bernabeu. There's room for improvement but the foundation is strong enough to handle La Liga. The 21-year-old has everything it takes to compete at the highest level. Sergio Ramos remains the man and Varane's status is uncertain. Regardless, Eder Militao represents the future for Real Madrid's back line. His signing will prove a masterful stroke.