When it emerged that Liverpool had offered £21million for Fluminense midfielder Andre, there was a collective murmuring among many Kopites: ‘who?’
This has not come out of nowhere. Mail Sport reported in July that Liverpool were among a host of European clubs interested in him.
All the same, he is a relative unknown, and he was no high-profile target until recent days.
With Jordan Henderson completing his move to Al-Ettifaq for £12million, Fabinho joining Al-Ittihad for £40m, and Southampton rejecting Liverpool’s second bid of £41m for Romeo Lavia all in the last week, this is not a time for studious patience.
Liverpool need a new defensive midfielder very soon. Perhaps one, perhaps more. With Brazilian option Andre entering the fray, it’s worth answering the burning questions: who is he, and what could he bring?
Liverpool have submitted a £21million bid for Fluminense midfielder Andre. But who is he?
Andre Trindade is only 22 but he has already acquired a strong amount of experience.
He first appeared on Fluminense’s radar at the age of 12, when he was playing as a striker in a youth tournament. Seven goals in eight games was enough to convince the scouts to pluck him from his home and bring him around 1,000km away to the Brazilian capital.
It wasn’t an easy start for him, according to Breaking The Lines. Having no relatives in Rio made the transition hard for the youngster and he was not overly pleased when he was moved into midfield.
Fast forward several years, and the defensive midfielder isn’t looking back. With 145 appearances under his belt for one of South America’s most prestigious clubs, playing in front of an adoring Maracana crowd, he has already achieved a fair amount of success.
In 2022 and 2023, he won successive Taca Guanabara and two Campeonato Carioca titles with Fluminense – regional championships in the state of Rio de Janeiro – accolades which hold some weight in Brazil.
His performances last season bagged him a spot in the Brazilian league’s team of the year. With 61 appearances throughout 2022, he also proved his endurance and is used to balancing domestic fixtures with continental clashes.
The Fluminense midfielder was in the Brazilian Serie A’s team of the season last year
In June, he received his first cap for Brazil, coming on as a substitute in a 4-2 friendly defeat to Senegal.
Fluminense are desperate to hang on to him. According to A Bola, the Portuguese outlet who have been covering Sporting CP’s pursuit of the youngster, Tricolor Flu Fluzão do not want to let him go until at least January, after the current Brazilian league season is over.
With Fulham, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Spurs, and West Ham all reportedly interested, there could be a scuffle for his signature.
A deeper look
The risk with assessing any player in a less familiar league is that it is easy to overhype or underestimate them. Information sources are often unreliable.
A quick scan of clickbait-titled YouTube highlights reels only reveals so much. One ten-minute video on Andre, tantalisingly subtitled ‘Insane Goals, Skills & Assists’, proceeds to show no goals and no assists.
That said, compared against his peers in Brazil’s top flight, he has the requisite qualities to play a variety of midfield roles, particularly for his passing and ball-carrying qualities.
The 22-year-old enjoys throwing himself into challenges but is more used to intercepting
Having been with Fluminense since the age of 12, Andre (right) has been through lots of highs
Some of his statistics are remarkable. According to stats site Fbref, no player in Brazil’s Serie A has completed more passes this season. No player has completed a higher percentage of their passes attempted.
Just four players have had more touches of the ball, and only five have carried it further. He is only dispossessed around once every three games, despite being in the top 2% for the number of times he receives the ball.
The caveat to that is that Fluminense have had more possession than anyone – 59.6% – and are a highly ranked team. So naturally you’d expect a man in the heartbeat of that team to see more of the ball and do more with it.
Defensively, he is strong in the Brazilian league. Only one midfielder has made more interceptions. He ranks in the bottom half of his peers for attempted tackles, but most of those attempts are successful.
Collectively, he makes more tackles in Fluminense’s defensive third than the other two thirds of the pitch put together, indicating that he typically intervenes in opposition attacks at quite a late stage. This might contrast with what he would be expected to do at Liverpool, as Klopp likes to win the ball back quickly high up the pitch, and it would be interesting to see if he could make that transition
His heat map places him in a typical No 6 position: directly behind the centre circle. But his movement is more eclectic than that, seeing him crop up regularly on the left side of the opponent’s half, suggesting he would fit into an expansive and fluid system.
At Fluminense he is playing among footballing royalty in the form of Marcelo and, to a lesser extent of regality, Felipe Melo – old sages who he can learn from.
Amid all these positives, it is worth clarifying what Andre is not. Based off current evidence, the 22-year-old is not your typical playmaker. While he may complete most of his passes, only a handful of those are progressive passes. Most of his duties involve picking a safer option and moving the ball on to a more creative player.
In 2022, he played 61 games. The youngster has played in the Copa Libertadores and for Brazil
Liverpool are seeking to replace Henderson and Fabinho after their moves to Saudi Arabia
There’s nothing wrong with that – in fact, that was one of Fabinho’s strengths – but it is worth bearing in mind that he does not contribute much on the attacking front. A record of three goals and three assists in his entire career could be much improved, even for a defensive midfielder; Fabinho managed to chip in with eight goals in 2021/22.
There’s only so much stats can say, though. Not only is their gathering vulnerable to human error, but they fail to account for so many factors. A high number of interceptions, for example, could be explained by a team-mate applying pressure to opposition players and causing them to mess up passes.
And so one finds those YouTube clips all the more tempting, allured by the romance of trying to decode a player with one’s own eye, to come up theories about what he might be capable of.
He is certainly impressive to watch. What stands out to the naked eye is his determination to dive into the tackle, to battle through the men around him, to get first to a stray pass. There is also an elegance to the way he sprays his passes and how he drifts through the midfield with the ball.
The problem is that any professional footballer can do that at the right level for them. It’s not rocket science. Clearly Andre Trindade stands out in Brazil, and he has earned the chance to prove himself in Europe.
Whether he can translate being dominant in his homeland to controlling the midfield of an elite European club is another question that only time will answer. Should Liverpool fans allow themselves a glimmer of excitement, though? Absolutely.