The American attacking midfielder has impressed with his sheer quality on the pitch.
It goes without saying that football is a team sport. However, once in a while we see the rise of an individual talent that often transcends the nature of the game. At one point of time it was Pele, then came Maradona and since the 2000s, we haven’t stopped hearing about the exploits of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. And now, with both players entering the final phases of their respective careers, the world of football has started seeing the rise of new names who have been touted to take the game further forward.
In the past few years, we have grown accustomed to hearing the names of Kylian Mbappe, Jadon Sancho and Erling Braut Haaland among others, as these youngsters have taken it upon themselves to carry the game forward. While the above three names hog most of the limelight among up-and-coming young players, a few others have also impressed fans lately – and one of them is Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna.
Born on November 13, 2002, football runs in the blood of Giovanni Reyna who is the son of former US internationals Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan Reyna. Claudio Reyna had a successful playing career that saw him ply his trade with Bayer Leverkusen, VfL Wolfsburg, Rangers, Sunderland, Manchester City and New York Red Bulls before being the Sporting Director of New York City FC in 2013. It was Reyna who also initially foresaw his son’s football career, as he joined the NYCFC youth academy where his talent soon shone through.
In April 2017, at just 14 years of age, young Giovanni Reyna helped his team win the U-17 Generation Adidas Cup, and was named the player of the tournament. He then got selected to the US U-15 side, where he played a starring role in their title-winning run at the Torneo Delle Nazioni youth tournament, racking up four goals including the winner in the final against England, and four assists.
Reyna arrived at Borussia Dortmund at the start of 2019, at the back of a strong 2017-18 campaign with the NYCFC U-18 side. After playing for the club’s U-19 side throughout the first half of 2019-20, the youngster was promoted to the senior side during the winter break and made his Bundesliga debut in the first week of 2020. A few weeks later, he then opened his BVB account, scoring once in a 3-2 DFB Cup defeat to Werder Bremen in February.
In the ongoing 2020-21 season, one can expect the 17-year-old to feature more under coach Lucien Favre, who seems to trust youngsters as proved by two shining examples – Haaland and Sancho. That said, we take a look at three attributes that make the youngster one to look out for, in the future.
Excellent finishing ability
An attacking midfielder by trade, Giovanni Reyna sets himself apart from other similar players of his age by means of his excellent finishing abilities. His finishing means that not only is he adept in creating chances, but he is also good enough to finish them off on his own.
An example of his finishing can be seen in the video above. Gio Reyna opened his BVB account with a goal against Werder Bremen in the DFB cup as mentioned earlier, and the above clip shows his brilliant finishing skills. It took only seconds for the 17-year-old to dribble past three defenders and put himself in a scoring position just outside the box, from where he curled the ball into the far corner of the post with great skill.
Speaking about his son’s goal-scoring skills, Claudio Reyna said, “He’s much more of an athlete than I was, much more of a goal scorer. He’s very technical and has a good feel for the game. He has a great free kick and can strike a ball well.”
Set piece specialist
People who have watched and followed Reyna closely, have revealed that that he is also dangerous from set pieces, notably direct free-kicks. This example below should tell readers something about his free-kick taking ability:
In the 50th minute of their DFB-Pokal first-round match against Duisburg in September, Dortmund earned a free-kick and they gave the opportunity to Reyna. The 17-year-old American took that ball and sent a low shot into the back of the net. Another example can be seen right below, wherein he struck a low knuckleballed free-kick which completely fooled the goalkeeper and nestled in the bottom corner to win the game for his team.
Good pace, has the eye for the killer pass
A good No.10 would be brilliant at creating chances, and despite having played just a relatively small number of matches for the Black and Yellow so far, Reyna has proved that he has all the necessary qualities to fit in the role.
Patrick Vieira, who coached the youngster during his two-year spell with NYCFC, previously likened him to his former France teammate David Trezeguet, who was known for his ability to run at top speed for extended periods and for breaking into the opposition’s box without any trouble. “For a kid, he has this physical presence and his game understanding is really good. He can score goals, he understands the demands of the game tactically. He’s a really smart kid and he’s shown some really good stuff,” Vieira had said.
If he could impress the former FIFA World Cup winner at such a young age, one can only assume about the extent of his powers once he reaches his peak age and form.