A strong performance against Uruguay combined with a solid campaign for Hannover has Walace making the case to be a midfield bruiser for Brazil
Walace has come a long way since he last represented Brazil in a big match, helping his country win Olympic gold for the first time in history before fading away for around two years. The Hannover midfielder has regained momentum and is now capable of reaching the next level in his professional career.
Walace was Brazil’s answer for the defensive midfield role at the Rio Olympic games in 2016, after he grabbed Thiago Maia’s spot and brought a great deal to Rogério Micale’s side. In his last match against Uruguay in Friday’s friendly, where he was a starter, the 23-year old showed a lot of potential, suggesting that he still has what it takes to retrieve his glory days.
Brazil’s midfield lacks physicality whenever Casemiro is out, but the former Grêmio-man has managed to make up for the absence of the Real Madrid star. A force of nature in 50-50 duels, he out-muscled the likes of Edinson Cavani, Lucas Torreira and Luis Suárez on numerous occasions. Meanwhile, his passing can certainly improve, and so can his technique. These will be vital factors in his quest to take steps as a footballer and reach higher levels.
Walace – a Brazilian back-up for Casemiro?
However, it is vital to have a replacement for Casemiro because his suspension was arguably the number one reason as to why Brazil lost against Belgium in the World Cup. Fernandinho had the most awful game of his life, whereas Paulinho and Coutinho were very poor in doing their part of the defensive tasks, leaving an unprotected backline against a group of talented Belgium attackers.
Therefore, it is more important that whoever replaces Casemiro, has a similar profile and prioritizes shielding the backline over any other task, even passing. Walace is not a bad passer, but he isn’t a great one either.
As long as he can physically impose himself on tough opponents like Uruguay, his teammates Arthur, Allan, Coutinho and Neymar can take charge of moving the ball forward. In a tournament like the Copa América, there will certainly be many opponents that rely on aggressive football rather than build-up football, which is more common for European national teams.
Brazil is not short of options for the holding midfield role, if we include Fernandinho – who despite his regular failures with the Seleção is considered a key figure at Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City – as well the likes of Liverpool’s Fabinho, Internacional’s Henrique Dourado, and of course, Walace.
The German league is a good environment for young Brazilians who make the jump from the South American continent to Europe, so Walace is certainly benefiting from his spells at Hamburg, then Hannover.
But with an ever-growing reputation, and the likelihood of improving his status at the Seleção in the next few months, what the rising midfielder needs is to keep up his consistent club performances until the end of the season, before adding a strong Copa América tournament display.
In this scenario, Walace will most certainly be on the radar of various clubs who are in need for a proper destructor who can nullify the opponent’s attacks, a bit like four-time UEFA Champions League winner Casemiro has been doing for Real Madrid. The next destination may well be England, or even Italy. In both leagues, players with his profile are always in demand.
Walace is on the right track to earn himself a big move this summer.