Eduardo Camavinga


Peter Munnelly

May 25, 2021

This profile was originally published in the seventh edition of the Scouted Football Handbook, available here.

Who is Eduardo Camavinga?

Teenage midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, born in Maconge, Angola, arrived in France at the age of two. 

Spending his formative years in Fougères, Brittany, he balanced a double sporting life of judo and football before – and in retrospect, wisely – committing to plying his trade in the latter, at Drapeau-Fougères, between the ages of seven and 11. The region’s biggest club soon came knocking, with Stade Rennais eventually taking him on in 2013.

He signed his first professional contract in December 2018, and thus became the club’s youngest ever professional player at a little over 16 years of age. Merely four months later, in a 3-3 draw with Angers SCO, he established himself as the youngest player to ever feature for Rennes’ first-team, as well as the first 2002-born debutant in any of Europe’s top-five leagues. By then, the rampant record-breaker was already beginning to make progress on the international stage. In November 2019, after obtaining his French citizenship a week earlier, he was afforded the opportunity to feature in the under-21 squad.

Up until its cancellation, the 2019/20 season had been Camavinga’s breakout campaign. The Frenchman featured in 25 of third-placed Rennes’ 28 Ligue 1 matches. The 17-year-old has been at the forefront of the widespread acclaim for Julien Stéphan’s side,

and rightfully so. Stéphan’s decision to field Camavinga in every area of central midfield – be it deep, on the left, or on the right – speaks to the level of trust between them, cultivated by the immense maturity and intelligence exhibited in the teenager’s league displays this season. His exponential development curve has been documented extensively across Europe, and with good reason. He is one of the most interesting young players in European football.

Eduardo Camavinga's Style of Play

Camavinga’s willingness to show for the ball is hugely impressive. He never shies away from moving to receive; dropping deep to provide quick passing options and an instant counter-pressing threat. That willingness to receive the ball in deep positions, however, has not impacted his eagerness to push through the half spaces when necessary. 

There are still occasions where he drops too close to players in possession, and he sometimes tries to slide between centre-backs at inappropriate moments. Learning when to make such movements should come with more top-level experience.

His frequently positive movements relative to the ball are largely informed by an impeccable level of awareness: he never stops scanning. Constantly checking over both shoulders prior to receiving, he knows not only where his nearest opponents are, but also where his team-mates are ahead of him, which allows him to feed first-time passes without having to take additional touches or spend further time looking once he has the ball. This plays a big part in his superb resistance to pressure.

With such alertness to danger, Camavinga knows exactly which space to take his first touch into, and although he regularly receives ball-facing, his ability to open his body up using minimal touches is impressive. His body orientation also enables him to effectively recycle possession, exchanging square passes that help to open lanes elsewhere in the build-up phase. 

The incision he lacks in ball distribution – he has an inverted tunnel vision that results in his forward passes being restricted to the flanks – is thankfully present when he is carrying it. Exemplified in attacking transitions, Camavinga is fantastic at allowing possession to run across him whilst taking touches that intelligently move the ball away from an opponent’s reach. 

It is the immaculately clean ball control he possesses mid-run, and the way he orientates his body to cover the ball, that facilitate his combination of speed and ruthlessness when driving forwards.

The teenager is no slouch, either. Although he is lanky rather than built out, the six-foot midfielder is more than able to hold his own in the air. He is also smart in the way in which he utilises his body with clever positioning, whether to draw fouls in tight situations or when dispossessing opponents.

Defensively, Camavinga is relentless in closing down opponents. Despite this proving to be something of a curse when he plays as a number six, where his lingering out of position can be costly, his approach in wider areas is effective. 

His crouched and angled stance allow him to cover greater angles and shift in tandem with the ball. His staggered movement towards the ball, albeit inconsistent, is also beneficial, and the long reach of his legs is enough to get him out of trouble when he plants himself too heavily in front, or does not check over his shoulder to block the right lane.

Forecasting Eduardo Camavinga's Future Prospects

It is hard to believe Camavinga began this campaign as a 16-year-old already heading into his second season as a professional footballer. To say he has impressed would be a serious understatement. His magnetism for the ball, especially in a way that serves and frequently benefits his team’s ball progression, is huge for a player of his age, even if his passing is not quite as penetrative as it could be.

The hustle and bustle of his defensive work is remarkable, too. He commits to so many defensive actions per match: contributing some of the league’s highest totals in this respect. His key areas of defensive improvement must be ensuring he reacts to combinations going past him by getting back goal-side and pressing onto opponents in a way that does not leave him susceptible to simple touches against the grain.

His inconsistencies, as well as the risk-averse nature of his playing style, might draw criticism or scepticism, but the irregularity of these actions is likely little more than a circumstance of youth. It is the fact that the great things he does are clearly a result of his natural intelligence that makes him such an exciting prospect. Camavinga is most suited to being a deep number eight, afforded the positional freedom in and out of possession to make himself an option to the ball and a nuisance to opponents.

For now, staying at Rennes – where he clearly feels at home and is playing under an impressive coach – is what is most important to his progression. With continued playing time and further development, the French teen will no doubt see many more big suitors join the list of clubs enamoured with him.

Eduardo Camavinga is a high energy, high intensity player off the ball. In possession, he looks to progress play quickly, especially with his ball-carrying.

Eduardo Camavinga tends to be a little bit safe in possession, often opting to play wide to the flanks rather than looking for more dangerous options in-field.

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