After a twelve year exile from the top flight, sleeping giants Talleres returned to the Primera and achieved a respectable mid-table finish in their first season back. Their campaign was made all the more impressive given the youthful core of the side, epitomised above all by their 21-year-old playmaker Emanuel Reynoso pulling the strings.
Reynoso enjoyed a fantastic debut season in the Primera, making 25 appearances and consolidating his role as the creative hub of Frank Kudelka’s team. This was illustrated by a virtuoso performance against eventual champions Boca Juniors, scoring one and laying on another, as Talleres claimed a historic 2-1 victory in La Bombonera.
This rise to prominence is even more stunning when you realise that Reynoso is lucky to still be playing football at all. In March 2014, Reynoso was having lunch at his family home on the outskirts of Cordoba, when he went to pick up a friend on his motorbike. However, Reynoso was held up by a couple of armed criminals who stole his bike and shot him in his left leg as he tried to fight them off, leaving his dream of becoming a footballer in tatters.
Through hard work and determination, as well as the support of his family and the club’s medical staff, Bebelo – as he is affectionately known – managed to eventually return to the playing field and keep his dream alive. By October of that same year, he had made his professional debut for La T against Alvarado in the Torneo Federal A (one-half of the third tier of Argentinian football).
Reynoso formed part of the squad that won promotion back to the Nacional B and then went on to play a key role in El Matador’s long-awaited return to their rightful place in the Primera. After another successful season, the classy attacking midfielder is now one of the most sought-after young players in Argentina.
One of Reynoso’s greatest strengths is his ability to thread a killer pass through the eye of a needle to get his team in behind the defensive line. Dropping into the space between the opposition’s midfield and defence, his wand-like left foot, excellent vision and exquisite technique allow him to regularly dissect opponent defenders with surgical precision.
In some ways, Reynoso is almost a throwback to more of a foot-on-the-ball playmaker, albeit a more mobile one. Though no slouch, Bebelo is certainly not blessed with searing pace and as such can often be seen utilising la pausa – a much-loved skill, perfected by the likes of Riquelme and Bochini, which still holds such nostalgic sway in Argentina.
His assist stats are good and could be improved, although his numbers are somewhat skewed by the fact he often provides the key pass before the assist. This is demonstrated by the fact that he ranked in the top 10 for key passes per game in the Argentinian Primera last season.
Reynoso’s killer balls in the final third are certainly the most eye-catching element of his game but the 21-year-old also possesses an impressive range of passing. While most effective as a number 10, Reynoso can easily operate in a midfield three and dovetailed well with veteran Pablo Guinazu and Leonardo ‘Colorado’ Gil for Talleres this season.
As the video below highlights, his long-range passing is phenomenal and he can spread the play quickly and accurately, bringing in the pacey Albiazul wide forwards or marauding full backs.
As well as his favourite raking cross-field balls, Reynoso is equally adept at short, intricate passing moves and is happy to drop deep, often seen picking the ball up from promising ball-playing centre back Juan Cruz Komar to initiate attacking moves for his side.
Another requisite of any Argentinian enganche is the time-honoured tradition of the gambeta or dribble. Reynoso is your typical mix of deft touch, silky skills and cheeky invention that are forged on the dusty potreros of the Argentinian interior. He also has the slightly stocky physique that allows him to ride challenges and wrestle free from his opponent, relying more on a clever body swerve than blistering speed to beat his man.
Last season Reynoso averaged 2.2 dribbles per game last season, a stat that once again sees him place in the top 10 in the last Argentinian Primera campaign.
With his prodigious left foot, Reynoso is fond of a shot from distance. Able to shift the ball quickly and try his luck from long range is a useful option to have and he can unleash a decent strike with his less-favoured right when needed.
However, two goals from 25 games suggests that his finishing still needs improving and he should be aiming to add more goals to his game. His well-deserved winner in the Bombonera was a sign of what he is capable of and if he can get into the box more regularly then his numbers will surely improve.
Perhaps an overlooked aspect of Reynoso’s game is his defensive capabilities. By no means a natural defender, Bebelo nevertheless puts plenty of effort into tracking back and pressing opposition.
His tackling could do with some refining but is fairly good nonetheless and Reynoso makes up for any deficiencies in this area with his determination, physicality and never-say-die attitude – no doubt a product of the obstacles he’s had to overcome during his tough upbringing.
Areas to improve
Aside from the aforementioned lack of goals, the most glaring weakness in Reynoso’s game is probably his aerial ability. At 1.76m, it is unlikely to ever be a strength but could still do with some work. Another issue is his stamina, as he only completed 90 minutes on five occasions and was subbed off in 19 of his 24 starts last season.
The only other concern has been the off-field controversies that seem to follow him around. The shooting injury may well have been out of his control and a product of his environment but Reynoso’s recent implication in a gun-related incident in the predominantly Belgrano-supporting neighbourhood Estacion Ferreyra raised new worries about his personal life. Hopefully, these incidents can be put to bed and perhaps a change of scenery would do him good.
After his breakthrough season in the Primera, Reynoso has suitors left, right and centre queuing up to sign him. Having seen just how good he is first hand, Boca have shown a keen interest in bringing Bebelo to the capital, while grandes River and Racing are also in the race. Further afield, there have been reports linking him to everyone from Fiorentina and Lyon to Benfica and Zenit St Petersburg, the latter having already signed a number of Argentinians this transfer window.
Wherever his inevitable move takes him, Reynoso is certainly a precocious talent who, despite being a little rough around the edges, has all the raw attributes to go on and become a sensational footballer. A national team call-up might be a bit premature but if he can continue his current trajectory there is no reason to suggest he won’t feature for the Albiceleste at some point in the future. It’s been a tough road to the top so far but you can be sure this won’t be the last you hear of Emanuel Reynoso.