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An extravagantly talented winger, Sporting Lisbon winger André Carrillo has at last added the missing piece to take his game to the next level – consistency.
Carrillo arrived in the Portuguese capital still a teenager in the summer of 2011, and from the outset the Peruvian proved both an explosive and a mercurial performer. With speed to burn, majestic dribbling skills and a rocket of a shot, he is capable of the truly sublime. His high-speed dribbling is especially thrilling to behold, his ability to slither past opposing defenders earning him the apt nickname of “La Culebra” (the snake).
But Carrillo exhibited the failing so often found among both flair players and young footballers. His form fluctuated wildly and he was liable to “go missing” in games, sometimes for several weeks at a time. Together with his utter lack of contribution to defensive duties, he was very much a luxury player.
In what has generally been a turbulent time at Sporting, each of the six different coaches who have had Carrillo at his disposal over the past four seasons have given the wide man a lengthy run in the side, yet he could never nail down his position as an automatic starter. Until this season that is.
Upon the arrival of Nani on loan, Carrillo may have had concerns his chances would be limited, with many analysts suggesting the inclusion of two maverick wingers in the team was too much of a risk. Those fears proved unfounded. Carrillo appeared to draw inspiration from Nani’s resurgence back at his home-town club. The Manchester United man’s mesmerising early displays may have taken most the headlines, but Carrillo was proving equally effective and even outshined Nani on several occasions as the season wore on.
With a third of the campaign to play, the Peruvian international has more than doubled his previous season’s best in terms of goal-scoring, having found the back of the net 7 times in 34 games in all competitions. He has also become far more disciplined from the tactical point of view, tracking back and helping the team keep its shape when possession is lost.
A stand-out performance against Chelsea in London in the Champions League raised his profile further, so little wonder that Sporting have been working furiously to try and get him to sign an improved contract.
Even if not in the immediate future, Carrillo’s exceptional talent will surely earn him a move to one of Europe’s major leagues.
Written by Tom Kundert
Follow Tom on Twitter @Portu_Goal
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