Last Saturday, 5 September, England’s Wolverhampton surprised many Premier League fans by announcing a € 40 million purchase 18 -year-old Porto striker Fabio Silva. This deal became a record for the 143-year history of the “wolves”, bypassing the transfer of the Mexican Raul Jimenez, for whom the British paid 38 million euros last summer.

The transfer of Fabio Silva turned out to be even more surprising, because about his soon completion, in fact, no one said. Everything happened quickly enough, unexpectedly, if not lightning fast. In a time when deals are usually preceded by long trains of gossip in the media, Wolverhampton worked surprisingly professionally – not a single important detail of the upcoming transfer has reached the press. Obviously, all the parties to the last were extremely interested in the agreement being concluded, and nothing prevented the clubs from hitting their hands.

So who is Fabio Silva, and why are the “wolves” who cannot be called spenders from the point of view of analyzing the work of the Premier League market, gave a colossal amount for themselves for such a young guy?

Path to football

Fabiu Silva was born on July 19, 2002 in the city of Gondomar, part of the Porto district. It is not surprising that when the boy became interested in football, then fate brought him to the academy of “dragons”, where he began to study at the age of 8 along with his peers. Actually, it could not be otherwise, because Fabiu’s father and brother are also connected with the world of professional football. The former made 83 appearances for Boavista and retired in 2011, while the latter also started at the Porto academy and is now at 21 with Lazio.

Interestingly, Fabio Silva’s father and older brother played in the center of midfield and center of defense, respectively, while the position of the newcomer of Wolverhampton is the center forward.

When Fabiu was 13 years old, he decided on the first serious move in his life – he left for the Benfica academy, but quickly realized that this was far from what he wanted. Two years later, Silva returned to Porto, where he continued to learn the basics of football until the moment when he was noticed in the ranks of the youth team by the base mentors.

The starting point for success for Fabio Silva was the 2018/19 season. In it, the forward scored 33 goals in 39 matches played for Porto U-19. Moreover, the young “dragons” became the best team on the continent, winning the UEFA Youth League, in the decisive match of which they were stronger than Chelsea (3: 1).

This helped Fabiu get an invitation to the first team from its main trainer Sergio Conceição. The coach even decided to throw the newcomer into the battle for the match of the 1st round of the 2019/20 Portugal Championship against Zhil Vicente. By the 77th minute Porto were sensationally inferior at a party with a score of 1: 2, and therefore the Dragons needed a boost in attack.

Conceição thought that the young Fabiu Silva would be good for this, and released him, giving him the opportunity to debut in the main team in an official match. Porto still lost (1: 2), but Fabio Silva broke the Brun Gama club record in the national league for the youngest age to debut in the Porto camp – at that time he was only 17 years and 22 days.

Interestingly, just 6 weeks later, Fabio Silva broke another club record – this time he became the youngest dragon player ever to play for a team in European competition. However, this time the match turned out to be more successful for Porto, because the Conceisau team defeated the Swiss Young Boys (2: 1).

It is clear that these records were followed by others (in particular, Fabio Silva became Porto’s youngest scorer in Cup matches, and then the Portuguese championship), but much more important is the fact that the young striker finished the season with 12 matches in the asset for the “dragons” in the championship, 5 – in the Portuguese Cup and League Cup, and 3 – in the Europa League. He scored a little: only 2 goals, but frankly speaking, Fabiu also did not spend so much time on the pitch.

What do they say about him?

In Portugal, many analysts and journalists have already called Fabio Silva “the new Cristiano Ronaldo.” This is understandable: the current main star of the local football is gradually moving towards the end of his career, and therefore all the stars appearing in the sky, playing in the attack, are a priori compared with the “great and inimitable.” Although, of course, for Fabio Silva, such comparisons are nothing more than advances that have yet to be justified.

What’s true , Wolverhampton hardly relied on high-profile epistolary comparisons from the press. The young Portuguese was thoroughly studied by the club’s scouts, who assured the management that an investment of 40 million euros would be justified at this stage.

“We have been following the development of Fabio for a long time. He is a player who only needs a few minutes to show his incredible natural football talent. In recent years, Fabiu Silva has developed very quickly and has established himself in Porto’s first team. Our breeders have been “leading” Silva ever since they spotted him at one of the tournaments in the Portugal U-16 national team. They believe that since then Fabiu has been the best number 9 in his age group among all the national teams on the continent.

Our newcomer has potential, and it will be very interesting to watch how he develops it under the leadership of Nuno Espirito Santo. I am sure that Fabiu Silva is one of the players who will quickly fall in love with our fans, “said Wolverhampton CEO Jeff Shea.

Where will he play?

It should be understood that Fabio Silva is a long-term transfer for Wolverhampton. Of the 12 league appearances in Portugal, he only played for Porto in the starting lineup. There is hardly any reason to believe that in the camp of the “wolves” Fabiu will quickly get used to it and become a base player. Most likely, Nuno Espirito Santo will gradually allow the promising compatriot to play in the Premier League so that Silva understands the pace and intensity of the game in the matches of this tournament.

38% of the playing time last season, Wolverhamton used a 3-4-3 formation, with two flanks and one center. However, in 25% of cases, the “wolves” involved a formation with two centers – 3-5-2. In the second situation, the chances of Fabio Silva to appear on the field seem much more significant, because the first team of Wolverhampton now has only two unconditionally main central forwards – Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota, although the latter still gravitates towards the left flank.
Interesting and then that Fabiu Silva’s submission on Wolverhampton’s official website indicates that the 18-year-old Portuguese is one of the four most talented teenagers present in the current Football Manager 2020 base.

Retelling all the strong qualities of the “computer version” of Fabio Silva, the site of the “wolves” states that the club very much hopes that the “real prototype” will be as bright and capable as its “electronic copy”. Well, we are also curious, for which all those who are not indifferent will need to take a closer look at Wolverhampton’s matches in the Premier League-2020/21 …

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