Bruno Peres: Neymar's buccaneering ex-team-mate Europe's big guns are eyeing
The 60-second story
Over the last two seasons, Bruno Peres has emerged as one of the most exciting players in Serie A. Despite being part of a struggling Torino side, the 26-year-old right-wing-back has enthralled with his attacking runs and deservedly attracted the attention of several top clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.
Born in the historically football-rich city of Sao Paulo, Peres first emerged as the successor to Danilo at Santos when the current Real Madrid right-back moved to Porto in 2011. He made his way to Italy three years later after a struggle with injuries led to him losing his first-team place, with Torino acquiring him for a mere £1.5 million.
While his arrival on the peninsula went under the radar, Peres quickly made his mark, establishing himself as one of the finest wing-backs in the country. He now looks set to become the latest in a long line of players who have used the Granata as a stepping stone to bigger things.
Why you need to know him
This term, Peres has built on that promising debut campaign in Serie A, justifying his label as ‘the new Cafu’ with frequent gambolling runs down the right flank
When Matteo Darmian left for Manchester United last summer, Torino lost their most incisive attacking threat. Fortunately, Peres has stepped into the Italian’s shoes rather comfortably.
The buccaneering Brazilian broke through last season and made headlines with a stunning strike in the Turin derby in November 2014. While Juventus eventually won 2-1, that match was remembered by most for the Torino wing-back’s moment of magic, Peres sprinting the length of the pitch before slotting beyond Gianluigi Buffon to equalise. The player himself described that goal as “the moment that changed my career”.
This term, Peres has built on that promising debut campaign in Serie A, justifying his label as ‘the new Cafu’ with frequent gambolling runs down the right flank. Indeed, only Roma’s Diego Perotti and Palermo’s Franco Vazquez – both of whom are attacking midfielders – have averaged more dribbles in Serie A this season.
However, given Peres’s proclivity for driving infield as opposed to overlapping, he is so much more than the typical wide man. His runs often end with him in a more central playmaking position in a bid to commit opposing defenders, rather than simply occupying the wing delivering crosses. In this sense he appears more likely to follow the path of David Alaba as the latest exponent of an increasingly-utilised role: that of the inverted full-back.
Fast and with an explosive burst of acceleration, he is an ideal outlet for transition-based sides such as Torino, for whom the counter-attack is the preferred method of attack
In a country that loves three-man defensive lines and rampaging wing-backs, Peres is right at home. Italy has been a safe haven for his kind over the years, beginning with Giacinto Fachetti in the 1960s and continuing right into the modern day.
He’s discussed his happiness at adapting to the football culture, saying: “Here [in Italy] I have much more freedom to attack. The coach plays me in a 3-5-2 [formation], and this helps me a lot, being an offensive player. Having those three defenders gives me a lot of freedom to get forward.”
Fast and with an explosive burst of acceleration, Peres is an ideal outlet for transition-based sides such as Torino, for whom the counter-attack is the preferred method of attack and any over-elaborate buildup play is generally eschewed. Alongside his sheer pace, he is also a difficult proposition to dispossess; even when his dribbles appear mistimed or erratic, he almost always emerges with the ball at his feet.
But what some might originally have perceived as bumbling luck is beginning to look more and more like tactical acuity. That no other full-back or wing-back in Italy has the same success rate in terms of dribbles is evidence not just of Peres’s technique, but also of his keen tactical brain.
A more valid concern may be his crossing; while he tends to drive inward when attacking, his deliveries from the outside channel could do with some work
As with nearly all attack-minded full-backs, question marks remain over Peres’s ability without the ball. His role places more importance on driving forward to create than any defensive solidity and as such it’s difficult to properly assess how well he’d fare in other systems and football cultures. It’s worth noting, however, that he rarely appears caught out in what is a fairly defensive Torino side.
A more valid concern may be his crossing; while he tends to drive inward when attacking, his deliveries from the outside channel could do with some work. He has just five assists to his name since moving to Italy and working on this aspect of his game would add greater variety to his play, enabling him to overlap just as effectively as he works infield, thereby making him less predictable.
After Peres’s superb run and strike against Juventus last season, Bianconeri legend Claudio Gentile was quick to sing the Brazilian’s praises. “Quite aside from it being a fantastic goal, what was impressive was his speed and coolness,” the former Italy defender commented. “I think he’s a quality player. Now he’ll have put himself on the radar of a lot of clubs – not just Italian ones – and he has to prove it was not a fluke.”
Did you know?
Peres has worked in the presence of esteemed company throughout his career. While coming through the ranks at local club Audax Sao Paulo Esporte Clube, he was coached by former Roma centre-back Antonio Carlos Zago. Then, with Santos, he played in the same team as Barcelona star and Brazil idol Neymar.
What happens next?
Torino usually cash in on their finest talent annually, as evidenced in recent years by the departures of Darmian, Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile, who left for Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund respectively.
Last November, Peres agreed to a contract that committed him to Torino until June 2020. His previous deal was set to expire in 2017, though the extension is realistically nothing more than a way of upping the player’s transfer fee when the summer window opens and speculation linking him to the likes of Bayern, PSG, Roma and Inter grows.
As it stands, Torino find themselves in lower mid-table in Serie A and, while a relegation dogfight doesn't seem to be on the cards, they may still finish in their lowest league position in years. This may in turn only weaken their resolve when it comes to negotiating with potential suitors.
Club president Urbano Cairo was nonetheless forthright when discussing the idea of Peres leaving last month. “We signed Bruno Peres for €2m and today I would reject offers worth €15m,” he asserted, before adding bluntly: “In fact, for that money they can’t even look at a picture of him.”
At 26, Peres has less potential than the average prospect, but his improvement and consistency in recent years are indicative of a late bloomer with the quality to move up a level. His attitude seems in line with this; indeed, when asked about the prospect of a move to a bigger club, he simply emphasised a priority on self-development. “I must work to improve and mature, as that is the only way to achieve results. I listen to everything [my coach] says… I have a long way to go.”