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Gianluca Busio- Player Analysis

Finally it appears that American investment into football is paying off, Christian Pulisic, Giovanni Reyna, Sergino Dest and Tyler Adams are just a handful of young hot prospects from the US who have shone in Europe’s top leagues. These players, barring Adams, took the route of going to Europe at a young age to develop, while on the other hand we are now finally beginning to see an influx of Young American talents shine domestically in the MLS first. Arguably 2 of the most exciting American young talents are plying their trade in the MLS currently- forward Cade Cowell at San Jose Earthquakes and classy attacking midfielder Gianluca Busio at Sporting Kansas City. Busio only turned 19 in May and already has nearly 70 domestic senior appearances to his name in addition to 25 youth caps from the U15 to U20 USA national team youth sides. A short and slight attacking midfielder with great awareness, vision and a knack for scoring out of nothing, it will be of no surprise to anyone who has watched Busio at all that he has been subject to interest of sides all across Europe. Fiorentina were rumoured to have made a multi-million euro bid previously while it is thought that Juventus and A.C Milan hold genuine interest in Busio. As things stand Busio looks most likely to join newly promoted Venezia as they look to make another shrewd signings and add another American to their ranks with Tanner Tessman having signed from FC Dallas in mid-July.

Busio is Half Italian and has Italian citizenship through his father so it may come as no shock if Busio ever lights up Serie A, or is even tempted to pledge his future national team allegiances with the Azzuri. If Busio keeps progressing at this rate then the USA should be desperate to do everything to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Busio’s career so far

Busio’s footballing career began in his native state of North Carolina, with North Carolina Fusion before he joined Sporting Kansas City’s youth academy aged 14. After signing a Homegrown player contract in 2017 Busio became the second youngest player to ever do so, after the now infamous Freddy Adu. Busio earned promotion to Sporting Kansas City 2, the clubs development side who play in the USL ( the second tier of professional football in the USA) and made 10 appearances, in this time he also racked up his first 8 appearances for the senior team. Busio’s first senior goal came in a 4-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps, with a tap in at the far post. Busio also recorded 1 assist that season. It was in 2019 where Busio really hit his stride however, making 22 appearances and scoring in 3 consecutive games in the spring of 2019, still only aged 16. All 3 goals demonstrated a willingness to press and force errors as well as great positioning and ability to read the game in the attacking transition in addition to clearly demonstrating that Busio has adequate finishing for an attacking midfielder. 2020 saw Busio add another goal to his name, a fantastic long rage strike vs Colorado Rapids, as well as 3 assists, helping aid his cause that he is a good creator with excellent weight of pass for his age. In 2021 Busio is still producing at a great rate for his age with 2 goals and 2 assists in 13 matches so far this season.

For the USA national sides Busio has made 23 appearances at U15 and U17 level scoring 9 times and has recently earned his first 2 call ups for the U20 team. If Busio commits to the USA over attempting to play for Italy then it feels like it is only a matter of time before he is slowly Bedded into the senior set up, such is his talents and the different role he could offer in Gregg Berhalter’s side.

One of Busio's best perfromances came against Houston Dynamo in May, recording an assist and scoring a fin free kick ( Credit- USMNT videos on Youtube)

The evidence that Busio is capable of playing at a higher level

Busio excels in many areas of the game. Firstly, if we look at the more surprising areas where he excels it is evident that Busio has an incredible work rate, which is highly desirable in the modern game where pressing is a key tool for many sides. Across the past year Busio has averaged 22 pressures a game and made around 2.8 tackles per 90 too, highly encouraging numbers for a primarily attacking minded midfielder. On the ball Busio excels as well as you’d assume for a midfielder who often plays ‘in the hole’. An average of 5.4 progressive carries demonstrates willingness to drive forward and dribble with the ball while Busio also creates around 2.8 shot actions- passes or dribbles leading to a shot. When looking at Busio’s numbers something else that really stands out is that across the past year in the MLS he has averaged 2.36 shots per 90 putting him in the top 3% for this metric amongst fellow MLS midfielders. The average distance of his shots this season is 22 yards, this highlights immense confidence for a young player to be taking this many shots/risks in game and at the most basic level helps show that Busio is a midfielder who wants to make thing happen and wants to affect a game.

Areas which Busio must polish in order to take his game to the next level come from his passing. An average pass rate across the past year of 83% is below average compared to fellow MLS midfielders and 3.8 progressive passes is very low, especially compared to Busio’s above average 5.4 progressive carries. Busio has completed a respectable 1.5 key passes and has also attempted 1.5 crosses a game so far this season. This would perhaps compensate for Busio’s lower pass success rate if he is attempting more ambitious/difficult passes in an attempt to be more creative on the ball. As for Busio’s apparent lack of progressive passing this can perhaps be pinned down to his style of play. As mentioned before Busio likes to carry the ball and he likes to shoot, he is an incredibly attack minded midfielder therefore by shooting more and carrying the ball for longer, which may be just as beneficial in terms of influencing his side in the final third, the number of progressive passes Busio makes is sacrificed. This is not necessarily a bad thing as Busio contributes a respectable number of assists and key passes but to improve and maybe add some maturity to his game Busio may need to have the odd game where creates play from deeper from time to time just to demonstrate that he does indeed possess good passing range, as some top sides who prefer to keep possession more could be slightly deterred by Busio’s willingness to shoot and take risks that incur losing the ball.

What does the future hold for Gianluca Busio?

Recently Busio’s best position has really come in debate, and split opinion amongst US soccer fans. Some argue that he raw talent and risk taking nature is perfect for playing as an archetypal number 10 while some believe he is wasted there and his eagerness to press and ability to create may suit him player further back and instead more as a number 8 or even as a number 6, dictating the tempo of a game. What isn’t in doubt is Busio’s raw talent and the fact that he possesses skills which make him destined to end up playing top flight football in Europe, as for now the fact that there is debate on where he would best be utilised in midfield is more of a compliment tot his talents than a hindrance and at 19 he has time on his side to work out his best position, from what I have seen and from what the numbers to you it is hard to look past Busio playing the number 10 role, naturally it is just what appears to suit him and with his eye for a goal it would seem a waste to deploy him further back in midfield.

As aforementioned Busio has Italian heritage and many Serie A sides are thought to hold an interest in him and a move to Serie A seems like a real possibility for him at some point, however it may be a bit hasty for Busio to jump ship to Serie A now as if he continues to improve that door will stay open for him. Having said this Venezia may be a good fit for Busio. Venezia haven’t spent big and are building a side clearly built of the merit of good scouting working having already signed talented young players from Finland, Iceland, and the USA. The expectation will surely just be to ensure survival for Venezia, this could be a high pressure environment that Busio thrives in and he may relish the responsibility of being the side’s chief creator. It may be a gamble if Venezia really struggle , but if Busio contributes well and aids Venezia’s survival then he could really put himself in the shop window for some of Italy’s bigger sides.

Busio is a very exciting talent and a really raw player as things stand however he has many technical attributes that stand him in good stead and if things go in the right direction for him Busio could truly be the next golden boy of football in the USA.

Written by- Joe Langlands

Linkedin- Joe Langlands

Twitter - @JJL296


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