FFT's Jonathan Fadugba profiles Bruma, the teenage winger dubbed 'the new Cristiano Ronaldo' ahead of Galatasaray's Champions League clash with Arsenal...
The 60 second story
- Name: Armindo Tué Na Bangna (Bruma)
- Date of birth: 24 October 1994 (age 19)
- Place of birth: Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
- Height: 1.73 m (5ft 8in)
- Position: Winger
- Club: Galatasaray (20 apps, 1 goal)
- Former clubs: Sporting CP (13 apps, 1 goal), Gaziantepspor
- Country: Portugal
Woven into the footballing identity of every nation is a predisposition for certain positions on the field of play. These positions become emblematic, almost representative of a country and its characteristics. In Argentina it is the famous ‘el diez’ or number 10 role, the conniving trickster who conjures unfathomable moments of magic and makes people dream.
In England, straight-backed, no nonsense centre-forwards and hard-nosed defenders once ruled hearts and minds but have latterly been succeeded by box-to-box, lung-busting, chest-thumping midfield types - Steven Gerrard the obvious modern day prototype.
In Portugal, currently, a generation of kids grow up wanting to emulate their hero, Cristiano Ronaldo. The result of this dream is a boon of wingers emerging at academies nationwide, from Lisbon to Oporto. It’s the reason why Portugal’s youth teams are crammed with adventurous widemen and, partly, why the Lusophone nation heads to major international tournaments with such a dearth of forwards that Helder Postiga and Hugo Almeida still somehow get on the plane.
The latest silky, touchline-hugging speedster to emerge from the ranks is Armindo Tué Na Bangna – otherwise known as Bruma. The 19-year-old is considered one of the outstanding teenage talents in world football, and as Galatasaray prepare to face Arsenal, Bruma could be the surprise package that few people know about who ends up making a name for himself.
Why you need to know about him
Bruma is the latest in a long line of talents to graduate from the fruitful academy at Sporting, which counts Luis Figo and Ronaldo among its alumni. Bruma was born in Guinea-Bissau, a West African nation colonised by Portugal in the 19th century until independence in 1973.
Like many prominent graduates of the Lisbon academy in recent times (Nani, Eric Dier, Yannick Djalo - Ronaldo, if you're ever to find yourself in conversation with any staunch Madeiran secessionists) the teenager’s roots lie well outside the capital.
Bruma joined Sporting’s academy when he was 13 and rose through every youth category possible at the club, winning the Junior A title with Sporting in 2011/12 and being named ‘Revelation of the Season’ in the Portuguese second division in 2012/13 for his achievements with Sporting B.
Bruma made his senior debut for Os Leões in February 2013, but it was at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup that summer where the winger truly shone, hitting five goals to become the competition’s second top scorer amid a string of eye-catching displays.
Bruma’s exceptional wing play and goalscoring prowess at this tournament drew comparisons with fellow compatriot Ronaldo, alerting a wider European audience to the youngster’s huge potential.
This audience included, among others, then-Galatasaray manager Fatih Terim (the competition was held in Turkey) and Spurs, who also fought for his signature. Bruma would go on to admit that Champions League football swung his decision in Galatasaray’s favour.
Eventually, Bruma was signed for €10 million after a long and tedious summer transfer saga in 2013 – but not before Manchester United supposedly put in a bid worth €8m more that was rejected by Sporting apparently on a point of principle.
“Galatasaray were rewarded by the club's president [Bruno Carvalho] for the way in which they conducted their business,” FIFA agent Marco Kirdemir told the Daily Express last summer. "As a result Sporting president Carvalho rejected Manchester United's €18m [£15m] bid and accepted a lower offer from Galatasaray.”
Bruma has, however, struggled since leaving Sporting. The teenager has made just 14 starts and 20 appearances in total for the Turkish giants, scoring one goal, and though glimpses of magic are always evident, his progress was hampered by a serious knee injury in January. An ACL tear kept him out of action for six months, costing him a possible place in Portugal’s World Cup squad.
Terim’s sacking last season didn’t help Bruma’s progress either. An attacking, forward-minded coach and the man who brought him to the club, Terim was replaced by Roberto Mancini, whose near militant insistence on forward players paying strict attention to their defensive duties is well documented in England.
This didn’t suit Bruma, and though Mancini left Galatasaray in the summer to be replaced by Cesare Prandelli, the youngster is yet to establish himself in Istanbul. There are, consequently, suggestions that Bruma could be available for transfer in January.
Bruma’s main attributes are his speed, his quicksilver dribbling abilities and his direct running. Always looking to charge forward, the teenager is a bundle of energy and a nightmare for defenders once he builds up some momentum and starts running at them.
As a right-footed wideman that is comfortable playing on either flank, his unpredictability is part of his allure. It’s difficult to read whether he’s planning to take his man on and cut inside or out. At the kind of speed he dribbles, that makes him a fearsome opponent in one-on-one situations.
Likened to Ronaldo, it’s a comparison Bruma embraces. “He’s my biggest idol,” says the teenager of his national team captain – Bruma is uncapped but has been called up at senior level twice. “For me Ronaldo is the best player in the world. I try to do what he does on the field, in fact I love trying to imitate him.” There are definite similarities, though that’s not to say the impressive youngster is anywhere near CR7’s level yet.
At the moment Bruma remains something of an individualist. Understandable, given his tender age, but still an area of his game that will require improvement if he’s to live up to the hype that currently surrounds him. In fairness, there’s plenty of time – Ronaldo didn’t shrug off the individualist tag until he was about 26, and still there are those who would accuse the Real Madrid phenomenon of being too self-seeking.
Bruma’s passing, both short and long, is instinctive and astute, but can let him down at important times, while his crossing could use work. Physically he’s also something of a shrinking violet, fairly easily shrugged off the ball by carnivorous, foot-stomping defenders - if they can get close enough to him in the first place...
His strength will undoubtedly improve as he grows into his frame, but it’s important Bruma gets the balance right. Part of what makes him so explosive in possession is his striking agility and nimble feet. Adding too much bulk by overtraining could detract from that.
“In the new season Bruma will be a very important part of this team,” Mancini stated in May before parting company with Galatasaray. “I’m expecting him to explode. He’s a very useful and exciting player.”
“Bruma is very important to our way of playing, especially in technical terms,” said former Portugal coach Paulo Bento. “He's a kid that also works well in the defensive aspect and responds to what you ask of him. He will no doubt have a chance to win his place in the team.”
Did you know?
Sporting are entitled to 20% of the proceeds should Bruma move for anything above €10m. The string of top European clubs currently monitoring the teenager’s situation will probably have noted this, particularly given Galatasaray’s current financial worries in an FFP world.
- Shooting 7
- Heading 5
- Passing 6
- Tackling 4
- Pace 9
- Dribbling 8
- Creativity 7
- Work-rate 7
What happens next?
As hard as he’s undoubtedly trying, it’s not quite worked out for Bruma at Galatasaray so far. It’s a concession one of his representatives, Marco Kirdemir, may privately have already made, as he’s talked up the possibility of his client moving on to new things on several occasions in recent months.
Kirdemir spoke publicly in September of interest in Bruma from Everton, Sunderland and Monaco, while Portuguese sports daily A Bola reported that Arsenal are keeping a close eye on the player and will make a move in January. Arsene Wenger can check up on Bruma’s progress at close quarters this week in the Champions League, but he’ll be hoping, on this occasion at least, that the talented young winger’s impact is minimal.