In our relaunched weekly Scout feature, we take a deep dive into an emerging player on track to become a footballing superstar before our very eyes.
This week’s edition focuses on Borussia Dortmund playmaker Gio Reyna, a player you’d have to be “blind” not to be wowed by.
Giovanni Reyna (often shortened to Gio) is the latest attacker to be entrusted the keys to driving Borussia Dortmund’s lethal frontline.
Despite turning just 18 in November, the fully-fledged USA international has already showcased why the Bundesliga powerhouse have become synonymous with flawless recruitment.
He senior debut came in February, but it is in the current campaign where he has truly made his mark.
Reyna is capable of playing anywhere across the forward line bar centre-forward. But with Erling Braut Haaland putting up video game numbers, that’s the least of Dortmund’s concerns.
A forward line boasting a collection of some of football’s most feared attackers hasn’t been enough of an obstacle to keep the teenager out of the spotlight.
Reyna has already been selected ahead of household names the likes of Marco Reus, Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard during the current campaign.
And when you notch a hat-trick of assists in just your fourth league start, it’s easy to see why.
Why the hype?
Arriving in Dortmund from the academy of New York City FC in 2019, few could have predicted just how quickly Reyna would become an integral part of a side perennially challenging for top honours.
Reyna has racked up five assists to go along with his two goals in the league this season – his latest strike a veritable stunner this past weekend.
18-year-old American Gio Reyna rifles one in for Dortmund 🎯 pic.twitter.com/IQuvjDUyw5
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 5, 2020
Eye-catching moments like those are soon to become commonplace for a man who possesses laser-like accuracy with both shot and pass.
Operating primarily as an attacking midfielder behind Haaland, he has already displayed the sort of vision that is sure to widen the familiar grin on the Norwegian’s face.
A common detraction of a young player is their inability to read a game’s pace and be caught in possession as a result.
That criticism can never be fired Reyna’s way. Always aware of his surroundings, the playmaker has shown no press or double team can contain him.
The greatest compliment he can be paid is that when lining up alongside world-renowned superstars such as Sancho and Haaland, you’d be hard pressed convincing a neutral observer Reyna was the one less than 3,000 minutes into his professional career.
Reminds you of a young…?
With a slew of defenders often left clutching the turf in his wake and the obvious American connection, Reyna has drawn early comparisons with Christian Pulisic.
The Chelsea forward possesses far greater pace, however, and would appear destined to make the left wing position his domain for years to come at Stamford Bridge.
Instead, Reyna’s more controlled dribbling style, eye for a defence-splitting pass and penchant for a whipped curler into the top corner reminds us of Philippe Coutinho.
The Brazilian has become somewhat of a figure of fun following his patchy performances since leaving Anfield in 2018.
But memories of his devastating displays in red are not forgotten. The playmaker arrived in Liverpool a precocious talent and quickly set about notching assist after assist.
His first two-and-a-half years of Premier League action produced more assists (12) than goals (8). But with age came greater refinement and consistency of his end product and those splits soon reversed.
Coutinho plundered 28 goals to his 18 assists in the latter half of his Liverpool league career. Expect Reyna to walk a similar path.
Picture this. You’re 3-1 down in the cup and a stout Werder Bremen defence are repelling attack after attack from Sancho, Reus and co.
Who do you entrust with changing the game from the bench? A 17-year-old American with barely 30 minutes of first-team action to his name.
If there’s a better way to score your first goal for a club than beating three players and whipping one into the top corner when your team needs it most, we’re yet to see it.
The Experts’ View
Endorsements from legendary figures like Patrick Vieira ensured Reyna’s status as a hidden gem would not last long.
While working as his youth team coach at NYCFC, the ex-Gunner said of Reyna (via Bundesliga.com):
“For a kid, he has this physical presence and his game understanding is really good. He can score goals, he understands the demands of the game tactically. He’s a really smart kid and he’s shown some really good stuff.”
Reyna’s talents are there for all to see. If you’re still unsure, just ask the man who sees him the most.
“In training you can see that he has something special. If you can’t see that, you’re blind.”
Tell us something we don’t know…
Like fellow rising star Haaland, Reyna was in fact born in England.
While his father – Claudio – plied his trade with the Mackems, Reyna was born in Sunderland in 2002. He was thus eligible to play for England, along with Argentina and Portugal through his family heritage.
He holds a Portuguese passport through his mother – ex-professional footballer Danielle Egan. Therefore, he counts as an EU player for Dortmund – very handy indeed.
His choice, however, was never up for debate…
Borussia Dortmund's Giovannni Reyna rejects speculation that he could turn his back on the #USMNT for England, telling RN: "I'm aware of the rumours, but it's quite clear: I only want to play for the United States. That's my home country." #BVB
— Ronan Murphy (@swearimnotpaul) March 5, 2020
A perfect fit for…?
One look across the Premier League this season throws up an obvious candidate crying out for his creativity.
Arsenal’s statistics in the final third are like something from a horror movie. Goals, shots on target, chances created, you name it, Mikel Arteta’s men aren’t doing it.
Reyna would see to that and quickly. The problem? You try prying a generational American talent away from Dortmund right now. The sort of money he’d command, Arsenal simply don’t have.
That said, Jurgen Klopp is said to be a massive fan. Indeed, it would not come as a massive shock were Reyna to one day sign for Liverpool.
Looks like we’ll be seeing him in black and yellow and the red, white and blue for the foreseeable future. If the last 10 months are anything to go by, we’re in for a treat.
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