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Gianluca Prestianni

A cutout photo of Benfica's Gianluca Prestianni set against a white background
Stephen Ganavas

February 7, 2024

Who is Gianluca Prestianni?

While Vélez Sarsfield found themselves mired in controversy a times throughout 2023, they also managed to unearth a player who might just be Argentina’s next great playmaking talent.

Gianluca Prestianni played 1,500 minutes for Vélez, tempted the Italians to try and repatriate him for their national team, and then wound things up by locking in a move to Benfica in January 2024.

The teenager might take some time to acclimatise to European football, but his technical fundamentals underpin his enormous potential. 

If any club is going to be able to nurture and develop his talent, then it’s going to be a club like Benfica, who have proven to be one of the best clubs in the business at doing just that.

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Gianluca Prestianni's style of play

Let’s start with the obvious. While Prestianni is precociously talented, he is extremely under-sized. He is not just small, but also very slight. It was a determining factor in how he was utilised at Vélez, who opted to keep him pegged out wide and away from too much traffic and the physical contact that brings.

He is contact averse by nature too. To be fair, playing senior football as a 17-year-old in Argentina, that was probably a smart decision for his future prospects.

But Prestianni is a playmaker, and having him out on the flank does detract from his ability to greatly impact on games with his passing and dribbling, especially since he doesn’t have the explosive speed to beat his man and then take off down the wing.

With the ball in space, he is very efficient. He has really good passing and crossing technique. Some of his crosses, hit first time, are sensational. And he hits good short diagonal or sliding through balls into the box when he can get into better positions further forward.

Seeing him execute these actions demonstrates how strong his baseline underlying quality is, and why he has been so highly sought after by the big European clubs. But his ability to be squeezed out of games is very real.

But further physical development will no doubt help him. He should become a more efficient dribbler, with a bit more upper body strength to aid his extraordinarily good technical fundamentals. His a delightful dribbler, with sharp changes of direction and the ability to beat his man on either side as well.

He has the baseline package to achieve amazing things in European football, but the physical learning curve will be a steep one for him to manage to arrive at the elite level.

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Gianluca Prestianni is a high-level dribbler and creator with astonishingly good technical fundamentals.

Gianluca Prestianni is very undersized, even for his age, making it easy for the opposition to squeeze him out of games, and limiting his ability to work his way through physical pressure.

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