Lázaro 2022: Flamengo’s latest prospect – scout report
In recent years, Flamengo has developed some of the hottest Brazilian prospects in Europe, with the likes of Paquetá, Vini Jr., and Reinier all being sold for significant sums. The next big star coming out of Flamengo’s youth academy is the 20-year-old forward, Lázaro. The Brazilian came into the spotlight after scoring two late game-winners in the semi and final of the 2019 U17 World Cup. Since then, he has been slowly breaking into Flamengo’s star-filled first team.
In the first few months of the year, Brazilian clubs compete in their regional state championships. Flamengo is known for taking this time to give opportunities to their young stars. Lázaro has been leading the charge this year, having received a lot of support from the new manager, Paulo Sousa. With only three starts and a few substitute appearances, Lázaro has 2 goals and 2 assists.
In this scout report, Lázaro’s playing style will be examined through statistical and tactical analysis. More specifically, the 20-year-old’s strengths and characteristics will be looked at in detail.
Lázaro has proved to be a very versatile player. In the youth academy, he mainly played as a centre-forward or an attacking midfielder. However, he can also play on either wing. In Paulo Sousa’s 3-4-2-1 tactics, Lázaro has surprisingly featured as a left wing-back. On other occasions, he has also played as an inverted left-winger as he is right-footed. In summary, he can play anywhere in the attack.
The image below provides basic information on the Brazilian, along with his heatmap and statistical rankings for the Carioca 2022. Despite being 181 cm, he ranks surprisingly high in both aerial duels per 90 and aerial duels won (%). Additionally, he is leading the charts for statistics in the passing and dribbling department. As these are some of his main strengths, they will be examined in depth later.
The image below is his heatmap throughout his whole career so far – including some youth competitions. Recently, he has been most often used as an inverted left-winger. His heatmap bleeds into the left half-space as he will naturally cut into his right foot with frequency. More lightly, his heatmap also covers all of the final third displaying his versatility.
To further exemplify this, one of his passing maps can be used. Nearly all of his passes are from the left-wing and left-half-space, facing inwards. He has been used as a left wing-back, despite being right-footed. As a consequence, his function is to provide width to the attack, but with the liberty of creating and attacking the inside.
Talented Brazilian wingers are known for their flair and dribbling, but rarely for their passing. Lázaro stands out as a very creative player. He is a very aggressive player in his decisions, often looking to attack the defensive line and create. As we will look at later, his dribbling and acceleration are outstanding. These attributes combined with his superb vision and passing abilities make him a very dangerous and creative player.
Statistically, these strengths really stand out. As shown before, he is in the top percentiles for many passing statistics. In the Carioca 2022, Lázaro averages 0.95 key passes per 90. Additionally, he averages 1.19 smart passes per 90 at an impressive 80% success rate. This demonstrates his vision and ability to create chances in the final third. He is also fourth in the Carioca for successful attacking actions per 90, at 6.43. Finally, 4.6 passes to the penalty area per 90 highlight his ability to not only get in dangerous positions but also find his teammates in these dangerous positions. In summary, he is a very dangerous player in the final third who can create high-quality chances for his teammates.
One of the many manners through which he creates in the final third is combinations. As we will see throughout this analysis, Lázaro can play quickly and well in tight spaces. His awareness, ball control, and technique allow him to quickly combine or dribble out of difficult situations. In the image below, he receives a pass from his teammate while around two opposition players. He quickly plays a backheel pass into the space behind for the same teammate to run into. This sort of quick thinking allows him to catch defences disorganised or just simply beat opponents.
Lázaro’s vision is very impressive. He is constantly aware of the spaces within the defensive organisations in addition to the movement and positioning of his teammates. Additionally, he is able to play passes with great precision and weight through tight spaces. Below, he finds Gabigol making a run into a very dangerous position. Despite having a defender in the way, he is able to play that through pass and put Gabigol in front of the goal.
In a similar situation, he finds Gabigol once again making a run into the same area. This time, however, there are four opposition players in the way. He is able to thread that pass through and take four defenders out of the play at once. It is also important to note his positioning. Playing on the left side, he drifts inwards to his right foot as he looks to create.
Later in the same match, he gets an assist to Gabigol to finish the game off. After a deadly counter-attack, he calmly plays a through pass for Gabi to score. Not only did he weigh the pass very well, but he also lifts it just above knee height to keep the defender from intercepting.
Recently, Flamengo played Atlético Mineiro in the Brazilian Super Cup. The 20-year-old came on early in the second half and provided the assist for Flamengo’s go-ahead goal. While the game went to penalties and Flamengo eventually lost, Lázaro had an impressive performance and did not feel the pressure. His assist was again in a counter-attack, but with a very good through pass for Bruno Henrique.
Whether in transition or positional attacks, Lázaro is very good at being aggressive in his passing decisions and attacking the defence. He is able to find his teammates and put them in very dangerous situations. This makes him a more well-rounded threat for defences to deal with.
In addition to being a creative threat through his passing, Lázaro is an excellent dribbler. Unsurprisingly, he has that well known, youthful Brazilian flair. However, Lázaro is much more efficient with his dribbling. Rather than doing tricks for pure entertainment, he looks to beat defenders and create chances. This is very impressive for his young age, as most kids are still raw in that sense.
Lázaro’s speed and acceleration complement these traits, as he is often able to get past defenders with quick movements and changes of directions. Especially on the wing, a quick change of direction with acceleration is enough to beat defenders and either cut inside to his right or take it down the line for a cross. In the Carioca 2022, Lázaro is averaging 6.19 dribbles per 90, a very impressive figure. Below is a map of his dribbles in one of these matches.
As noted with his passing, he is very aggressive in his decision making. This essentially means he is constantly looking to attack and progress with his actions. This is very reminiscent of Vini Jr., who constantly looks to take players on and create. This characteristic is very refreshing in today’s football as risk-taking players are much less common. Below is an example against Atlético Mineiro in the Super Cup final. During a positional attack, he drops in to receive the ball in the middle third. He then turns and quickly accelerates through two defenders into space. As he drives towards the defensive line, he forces it to lower its depth and therefore get even closer to the goal.
This is fairly common in Lázaro’s playing style, but even more in advanced positions. In the final third, he will often look to get past players and attack defenders. As Guardiola famously says in the Prime documentary, ‘commit, commit, commit’. This refers to the idea that when you carry the ball into space, you force the defender to make a choice. He can either attempt to challenge for the ball, thus leaving his position and creating space elsewhere, or remain organised and allow you to keep moving forward. It essentially sets off a chain of reactions that allow the offence to create chances.
In the instance below, Lázaro receives the ball near the side-line and quickly dribbles past the first defender. Rather than instantly passing it, he drives at the second defender, in red.
In accordance with all these traits, he is very successful in 1v1 situations. Since he plays on the wing, he is often able to receive the ball with both time and space to take players on and attack. In the instance below, he receives the switch near the side-line. It is key to note his positioning as he is as wide as possible, nearly touching the side-line. This maximises both the time and space he will have on the ball once he receives it.
He takes his defender on and beats him with a quick dribble. He is able to get down the line and enter the box to deliver the cross.
His ball control is equally impressive. He is able to dribble and maintain control in very tight spaces. This allows him to create inside the box as well as to get out of tough situations. In the instance below, he does a Croqueta to get through the middle of two defenders before crossing with a cheeky Rabona.
This ball control is also helpful when launching counter-attacks. As seen before, Flamengo was recently highly successful in counter-attacks against Botafogo. A significant part of that was Lázaro’s participation in them. For example, he is able to get past two defenders once again and accelerate into a disorganised Botafogo defence in transition.
Finally, his dribbling also allows him to create chances for himself. Playing on the left-wing, he will often cut inside to his right foot. As he has a very good shot, he will often have a go from long distance. Again in a 1v1 situation, he drives at the defender and quickly changes direction to cut inside and shot.
As we have seen, Lázaro is a creative player. He is able to create chances for others through his passing and dribbling. His ability to score and get on the end of dangerous balls, however, is also very impressive. Below is the shot map for his short career so far. Aside from a few too-long shots, his shot selection is very effective.
Having at times played as a centre-forward in the youth academy, he is very aware of how to make effective runs and finish chances inside the box. In addition to having very good technique, his composure is outstanding for his age. Against Fortaleza for Flamengo’s U20, he is able to catch a second chance and perform a perfect finish into the bottom corner.
His performance in the 2019 U17 World Cup also emphasised his finishing abilities. He scored two game-winners late into the games, one in the semi-final and one in the final. In the semi against France, he delivers a superb finish from the top of the box. He is able to perform a quick dribble to create just enough space for the shot. Despite having exactly three defenders in the way, he finds the bottom corner with power to send Brazil to the final.
Now in the final, he once again finishes a late chance to give Brazil the title. He is able to position himself well inside the box to receive a cross completely alone near the penalty area. He finishes it with a very composed volley into the opposite corner.
Lázaro also makes very good runs in the final third. He is able to attack the depth very well. In order to do this, his positioning is key. He often positions himself in the defender’s blind spot. Consequently, the defender can not see him and the ball at the same time. It gives him a head start and he is often able to beat defenders to the ball. Below is a perfect example of this. He makes a run into the depth and scores his first goal in the match against Corinthians U20.
Lázaro is a very complete and versatile attacker. He can play anywhere in the attack, but his most dangerous position is wide on the left. His creativity – both through passing and dribbling – makes him a very difficult player to defend. The aggressiveness in his decision making often creates a lot of chances and helps him team progress through the zones. In addition to being a creative force, he is also a very good finisher. He is able to get on the end of dangerous balls and maintain the composure to score.
At only 20 years of age, he has tremendous potential. Flamengo’s team, however, has some of the best forwards in the country. As a consequence, it has been very difficult for Lázaro to break into the first team. With a market value of only £3.15m, he could be a complete bargain for most European sides. It will be interesting to watch him develop and see who is the first European club to sign him.