Bryan Gil, The Little Cruyff Who Paved Way on International Stage

Thursday, March 25, 2021 is a day Bryan Gil Salvatierra will never forget. He got his debut for the Spanish national team that day. Luis Enrique gave him his first experience with the national team in the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Greece. Bryan came on in the 65th minute to replace Sergio Canales.

Bryan performed quite well. Even though it was his first time competing at this level, he appeared confident. The Eibar loan winger is vocal in asking for the ball, is agile in dribbling, and is a constant threat on the right side of the Greek defense. Unfortunately, Bryan failed to help Spain win the match. La Furia Roja had to settle for sharing numbers with Greece.

Bryan is the new player Luis Enrique wants to try out. Apart from him, the former Barcelona coach also called Pedri (Barcelona), Roberto Sanchez (Brighton), and Pedro Porro (Sporting CP). Pedri also made his debut in the early hours of this morning.

The call may be commonplace for Pedri, whom the Blaugrana has relied on since the start of the season. But for the other three names, the nickname was even more unexpected. Bryan himself was very emotional when he received news from the national team. After learning that Enrique has finally given him a chance, he cries with emotion at the Eibar practice complex.

His dream of playing for the national team came true. Bryan also had to maintain consistency in performance so that he was involved in the upcoming Euros. “I can’t control my emotions. This [entered the national team] was the target that I carried with my grandfather. I dedicate this to him, “said Bryan.

Bryan Gil was born in Cadiz, Andalusia on February 11, 2001. As a child, Bryan trained with the local team, Barbate CF before being recruited by the biggest Andalusian club, Sevilla. He studied at the Los Nervionenses academy and made his senior team debut on January 16, 2019.

Prior to his loan spell at Eibar, he played 21 times for Sevilla. However, from the number of matches, Bryan only played 458 minutes. He only started once for Julen Lopetegui’s men, when he competed against APOEL Nicosia in the Europa League group stage, last December 2019.

The lack of opportunities to play made Bryan have to go on loan to get flying hours. He was loaned to Leganes in the second half of last season. His work at Leganes was not satisfactory. Bryan only made four appearances as a starter and Los Pepineros were relegated at the end of the season.

It’s a different story on Eibar. Bryan developed rapidly and received significant challenges while defending the Basque club. This season, he has played 20 times in La Liga, 19 as a starter. Eibar coach, Jose Luis Mendilibar, played an important role in the development of the winger with the number 25 back. Mendilibar itself is a coach who is said to have contributed to the development of David Silva to become Europe’s elite playmaker. He coached Silva when he was loaned to Eibar in 2004/05.

At Eibar, Bryan showed his capacity as an agile winger. Eibar’s coaching staff are working hard to improve their technical capabilities. “Bryan is a true winger, he has [the ability] one on one,” Mendilibar told El Pais. Bryan used to be revealed as the left winger. Los Armeros relied on aggressive play to create opportunities. From the left wing, Bryan is capable of progressing near the penalty box and opening opportunities via crosses or breakthroughs. The 20 year old player is Eibar’s most creative player so far. He recorded the most key passes (37), passes into the penalty box (40), and the most xA (3.9) in the Eibar squad.

His movements are resilient and often make the opposing defender anxious. Apart from being an attack creator, Bryan is also capable of opening his own shooting space. The right side of the penalty box is the favorite shooting zone for the left-footed player.

However, Bryan is not a prolific winger. He has only scored three goals. Bryan also only scored two assists from the expected assist value (xA) of 3.9. This cannot be separated from Eibar, which tends to play defensively and drag goals. In the 2020/21 La Liga, Los Armeros are the team with the lowest scoring record (22).

On the other hand, Eibar’s game character and struggles at the bottom are valuable for Bryan’s development. Unlike Sevilla who tend to play dominantly, Bryan has to adjust to Eibar’s direct play. His tenure at Eibar developed his defensive abilities and ball retention techniques. Defending a weaker team makes him wise in possession and must not waste a moment on the counterattack.

Bryan has also succeeded in developing his football agility at Eibar. Mendilibar assistant at Eibar, Andoni Azkargorta likes Bryan’s body shape, dribbling ability, and aggressiveness in winning the ball. “On a physical level, he is very resistant. Want to try hard. When the match has lasted 90 minutes, he can still win the race, “said Azkargorta.

Bryan does have the natural talent of a winger. He is an accomplished dribbler. In the 2020/21 La Liga, Bryan become the player with the fourth most dribbling with a success rate of 58.9%. He is also fond of humiliating opponents by hitting the ball past them.

Apart from that, Bryan also trained his weak legs. The results were seen when Eibar faced Granada, last January 4. Bryan scored a brace in the match, his second goal coming from the right foot. He received a pass on the right side outside the penalty box. The opposing defender was swift to close the shooting space on the outside so that Bryan could not shoot with his left foot. Bryan then dribbled deeper into the center and fired a right-footed shot that the defender didn’t expect. The shot lodged right in the corner of the goal.

In the 2020/21 La Liga, Bryan Gil is one of the most eye-catching young players. The Spanish media compared him to the young Johan Cruyff. As well as being physically alike, Bryan’s grace on the pitch is the origin of this comparison. They also broke into the senior national team at a young age. Cruyff did it at 19, while Bryan was 20 when he made his debut yesterday.

Sevilla’s youth development coordinator, Pablo Blanco, is confident that Bryan will become a mainstay player for Spain in the future. Blanco has been following Bryan’s development from close range a long time ago. According to him, Bryan always showed signs that he was an elite player.

“They know him well in the national team, like Pedri. “He has gone through all levels of the youth team and showed the achievements of an elite footballer,” said the living legend of Sevilla.

Bryan Gil still has a long way to go. Before thinking about being in the squad for the Euro or the World Cup, he still has two games left in the international break this time around. Spain will face Georgia and Kosovo in the Qatar 2022 qualifiers. If Luis Enrique is given another chance, Bryan will certainly have to show his worth in the national team.


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