Who is Savio? Guardiola's new Man City weapon billed as the next Vinicius Junior
Shortly after the close of the January transfer window, Manchester City decided to make Savio their first summer signing, so TEAMtalk has taken a look at the player and what the Citizens can expect from him…
On Monday night, it emerged that Man City have already agreed their first summer arrival, with a deal struck for winger Savio, also known as Savinho. City have struck an agreement with affiliate side Troyes to land Savio amid his impressive performances for one of their other sister clubs, Girona.
Rivals teams from England and Germany have previously bid as much as €30million (£25.7m) to sign the player, but it is City who will benefit from his arrival this summer.
But who is Pep Guardiola’s latest attacking gem?
Savio is a 19-year-old, left-footed forward who mainly operates as a left winger but can also play as a right winger or central attacking midfielder if needed.
He was born in Sao Mateus, Brazil and came through the Atletico Mineiro academy before moving to Europe in July 2022. French club Troyes signed him in a deal worth €6.5m.
This saw Savio become part of the City Football Group, a conglomerate which owns the likes of Man City, Troyes, Girona, New York City, Melbourne City and Palermo.
Savio has never actually made an appearance for his parent club though, as he has been loaned out on two separate occasions instead.
He spent the 2022-23 season in the Netherlands with PSV. Savio began the campaign well, registering two assists in his first three Eredivisie appearances. He also picked up important Europa League experience by featuring in PSV’s group matches against Bodo/Glimt and FC Zurich.
However, by mid-October Savio had fallen down the pecking order at the Philips Stadium and he did not make another first-team outing. The youngster was not helped by a hamstring injury which ruled him out of 11 games in all competitions.
Savio returned to Troyes last summer, and City Football Group chiefs were determined to ensure that his next transfer would be beneficial for his development. This saw them go in-house, as Savio joined Girona in Spain. He has excelled in Spain, and we will get on to that soon.
Savio represented Brazil at U15 and U17 level before moving up to the U20 side in 2021.
So far, the wide man has made six appearances for Brazil U20s, registering one goal and three assists. All of those goal contributions came in last year’s U20 World Cup, during which Brazil made it through to the quarter-finals before being knocked out by Israel.
Savio will be hoping to force his way into Brazil’s senior squad at some point in the future.
How has Savio performed this season?
Savio has been in great form since joining Girona on a temporary basis last summer. He has managed five goals and seven assists in 23 league matches, helping Girona mount a shock title challenge after finishing in 10th place last term.
Savio’s deadly performances have helped Girona pick up 56 points from 23 games, putting them in second and above major Spanish clubs Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. Girona are only two points behind leaders Real Madrid, too.
The biggest side Savio has scored against in the league is Atleti. In an incredible game, Savio smashed home a volley on his left foot after Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak had done well to deny Ivan Martin. That goal saw Girona restore their lead to 2-1, and they went on to win the match 4-3 thanks to an injury-time strike from Martin.
According to WhoScored, Savio has been Girona’s third-best player in La Liga this campaign, with an average rating of 7.21. He is top of the club’s charts for league assists (seven) and dribbles per game (2.7), while he is second for key passes per game (1.2).
Savio also performed well in the Copa del Rey, getting on the scoresheet against San Roque Lepe and Mallorca as Girona were knocked out of the competition in the quarter-finals.
Why is the transfer exciting for Man City?
Savio could end up being an absolutely brilliant player for Man City. He is causing La Liga defenders all sorts of problems, and at just 19 years of age he has plenty of time to get even better.
The way the Brazilian glides past defenders with ease has led to comparisons with world-class Real Madrid ace Vinicius Junior, which shows just how highly Savio is thought of.
Savio is an incredibly intelligent forward who can cut through opposition defences in multiple ways. He has the ability to take on a man on either flank and get a cross into the box, or he can cut inside before getting a shot away at goal.
City’s impending arrival also has great vision, which means he can play strikers in behind the defenders with an astonishingly accurate pass.
Savio is both pacy and direct, which means once he gets to full speed he is very hard to stop. He also possesses an array of skills that he can use to wrongfoot a defender or put them off balance before flying away in the opposite direction.
Savio’s speed, skill and elusiveness means he is great at winning free-kicks, similar to current City attacker Jack Grealish. This means Kevin de Bruyne could benefit hugely from his arrival by having plenty of set-pieces to shoot or cross from.
How will Savio fit in at City?
It will be very interesting to see how City look to develop Savio, as well as how and when he is eventually integrated into the first team. It is possible that the Citizens will loan him back to Girona for the 2024-25 season so that he can get even better before returning to the Etihad in summer 2025 and forcing his way into the starting eleven.
Guardiola has a fantastic squad that includes Grealish, Jeremy Doku, Phil Foden, Oscar Bobb and Bernardo Silva – all of whom are able to play out wide. Although, there may well be an opportunity for Savio to stake his claim.
City sold Riyad Mahrez and Cole Palmer before the season began, with Guardiola mainly using Foden on the right flank since then. But Foden has aspirations of eventually succeeding from 32-year-old De Bruyne in the central attacking midfield role, and this tactical switch would make room for Savio in the team.
There has also been tentative talk that City might offload Grealish as Guardiola seems to prefer using Doku when both players are fit. Should Grealish leave the Etihad then this would give Savio an opportunity to compete with Doku for a starting role on the left flank.
It is very tough to assert yourself as a regular starter for City, given the huge resources at Guardiola’s disposal. However, Savio has the potential to emerge as a top-class performer in both the Premier League and European competitions.