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One of the biggest surprises in the Sporting Cristal defence this season was Gianfranco Chavez. Los Cerveceros were having trouble at the back with Revoredo and Madrid being criticized by fans and pundits alike. While both are respectable players in their own right, this made manager Claudio Vivas look to the academy.

Gianfranco Chavez came in and was one of the best defenders in the league while also being accomplished in continental competitions.

Here is a scout report on the 21 year old Peruvian defender.

Background

Gianfranco Chavez was part of Peru’s U15 side in 2013, which they managed to get their first title and qualify for the youth Olympics. Chavez was key in the defence in their title run. However, he was not called up again for the U17 Sudamericano and it wasn’t until 2017 in the U20 tournament until he got another run.

Peru were underwhelming in this tournament, but Gianfranco Chavez was one of the standouts. He was holding that defence together for as long as he could. It wasn’t enough to save the Peruvian team but he certainly left an impression.

However, he kept getting neglected by Cristal in the next two years and even sent him out on loan to Deportivo Coopsol in the second half of 2018.

It wasn’t until 2019 where he got his chance. He debuted in the year against Alianza Lima, where he held the opposing attackers for most of the game and was praised by fans and pundits alike. Some people even became rash and claimed he could be Peru’s future central defender on that same day. While at the time of writing it hasn’t happened yet, he went on to continue impressing and convince the audience even further.

Style

This one is hard to analyze. He’s certainly not a ball playing defender, but he’s not just an “accomplished” defender either. He knows how to play with his feet, but instead of playing it out with progressive runs and impressive dribbling, he makes long passes up towards his teammates up front and places them well rather than blindly.

Meanwhile, he’s also very good defensively. He doesn’t have the most dominant stats in the league, but for a 21 year old with few minutes in the Liga 1 before 2019, it’s quite impressive.

Here is a graph of his most relevant stats.

Gianfranco Chavez (1998) - Scout Report

As you can see, his passing is superb. Not only does he have a high passing accuracy, but his long passing (including to the final third) is also in the elite category. He has the vision and the technical ability to put in a ball forward and find the right player to either start a counter, or just get it away from the area in general.

That said, he has low clearances. So clearly his intention is to try and start a counter rather than blindingly shooting it away from Cristal’s own box.

As for his defensive duels, he doesn’t always go for the tackle outright, but you can also see that he is quite successful when he does at around 71%.

Finally, he has an acceptable amount of recoveries and aerial duels per game.

He can also play full back and he did so earlier in the season before shifting to centre back in the latter stages. He also did well, but is more limited out wide as he’s not got the best dribbling ability or goes forward enough to offer an offensive or overlapping game.

All in all, he’s a defensive player that knows how to play with his feet, but he’s not quite in the style of a “ball playing defender”.

Strengths

As mentioned several times, he can play with his feet and long ball up to the forwards using his technique and vision.

In terms of defensive attributes, his main strength is his anticipation. He is excellent at timing his tackles as well as his interceptions. He has 4.77 interceptions per game in the Liga 1 combined with the Libertadores.

In the Libertadores alone, he has 7.75 interceptions in the 4 games he played. He also got more than 5 at least in each of the big games including the likes of Alianza Lima, Binacional and Cesar Vallejo. Clearly he likes a big game.

In terms of sliding tackles, he only puts in 0.94 per game. Not many, but his success rate is quite high at 60%.

Finally, he is a disciplined defender. He is good at what he does, but he also proves his good timing on the tackle with him having only 4 yellow cards. Most of the time he wins the ball back, it’s in a clean manner. He has 2483 minutes

Another strength is his versatility. As mentioned, he could play full back but we didn’t mention on which side. He can play anywhere in defence.

Gianfranco Chavez (1998) - Scout Report

You can see in the image above, he’s not played in a set role on the pitch and moves between right centre back, left centre back and either of the full back positions. That said, he plays on the right more than the left when he’s playing out wide, but hasn’t been used there since the end of the Libertadores for Sporting Cristal.

Potential And What’s Next?

Gianfranco Chavez was called up for the Copa America 2019 as part of the preliminary squad. He didn’t make the final cut, but Peru is currently going through a confusing moment within their lineups and their right central defender. On the left, Abram at Velez Sarsfield is the clear option. However, with Santamaria now out of the Copa America and Carlos Zambrano still being ill disciplined, that spot is up for grabs.

Gianfranco Chavez should be called up at least once for the national team in 2020 and if he continues to impress, he’ll definitely go abroad. As far as what is known to general public, he has no EU passport and it might be tough to get to Europe. However, he can certainly make that jump from a feeder league within the America’s.

Overall, Chavez has a bright future for the Peruvian national team setup and with effort, go as far as playing in one of Europe’s top 5 leagues.

Conclusion

Gianfranco is one of the most consistent defenders in the Liga 1 and he’s got ability with his feet to convince Europeans to go after him. Obviously not the most complete defender, but he’s got the tools to work with and to help him develop further.

It will be interesting to see if good continued performances is enough to convince Gareca to give him a chance either for qualifiers or for the 2020 Copa America.

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