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Wesley França: Flamengo's flying full-back eyeing up Europe


Wesley Franca

After sniffing around the first team for the past few years, 2023 was a breakthrough year for Wesley França, who made a grand total of 54 appearances for Flamengo.


Louis Smith makes his debut for The Copa Club, profiling the highly rated 20-year-old.


Wesley França Player Profile


Following a spell with Atlético Tubarão, Wesley was brought in by Flamengo in 2021 after impressing in a trial, where he would initially join up with their youth sides.


His talents were quickly recognised as he soon became a key starter for the under-20s side.


Within a few months, Wesley was called up to the senior team and made his full debut against Atlético Goianiense aged just 18.



The youngster was given a chance in the first team when the experienced Guillermo Varela and Matheusinho picked up injuries in early April. However, even when the pair returned from injury, Wesley had taken their place after impressive performances.


His consistency of strong performances made him a first name on the team sheet for Flamengo and his standout moment came at the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte when he chipped Everson to give the Rubro Negro a 2-1 victory over Atletico Mineiro.


This was not the only time in the 2023 season where Wesley showed the composure of a striker in the box, having done so in another 2-1 victory over Racing of Argentina in the Copa Libertadores.


Strengths


Wesley’s fearless ability when in possession to drive the opposition with the ball and cause panic from the right flank is a key part of his game.


When out of possession Wesley likes to make overlapping - or underlapping - runs which cause havoc for the defending team, knowing not only do they have to watch out for a tricky winger, but also a boisterous attack-minded full-back.


He is a wonderful player to watch on the ball as he's confident, a great dribbler and can often throw in a trick or two. Not to mention his rapid burst of pace.

The 20-year-old tends to operate on the right flank but as now seen across the world, the inverted full-back is a role that Wesley is capable of, due to his ability to dribble his team forward and putting them on the front foot.


This allows him to pop up in random positions across the football pitch, meaning he can be a tricky player to mark for the opposition team.


Despite being attack-minded, Wesley knows his job when it comes to defending his goal. In the Brasileirão last season, he averaged just over two tackles per game, which was more than any other Flamengo player in 2023.


Weaknesses


Wesley is still very raw as a footballer, with 2023 being his first full year in the first team playing consistently, meaning there’s still plenty for him to work on as he develops.


His final ball definitely is something that he can work on, to help increase his output in terms of assists, although all of this responsibility isn't entirely on him.


With just one assist last season he needs to add more to his game, especially with Flamengo often dominating games at home.

However, as he develops, this is something which is 100% going to improve.


Because of his willingness to run at defenders, he can often lose possession of the ball, which is also down to his size and strength which will develop over time.


As an attacking-minded right-back, he often has to rush back and make last-ditch tackles due to being out of possession.


The future


With Wesley fitting the modern-day full-back role to a tee, a future in Europe is definitely on the cards for him, but he doesn’t need to make a rash decision and rush into it.


The 2023 campaign was a great year for him that saw him play over 2000 minutes in first-team football.


However, Wesley has only 18 months remaining on his contract and has reportedly told the club he wants to play in Europe.


Barcelona were linked with the Brazilian last year and this time around Wolves are rumoured to be interested in his services, to provide healthy competition for Nelson Semedo, who has been inconsistent this season.


The future looks bright for Wesley, as Flamengo look destined to lose another talented youngster.



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