Sam Tighe takes a closer look at the performances of Southampton's teenage sensation Tino Livramento in this week's Tactical Watch, in association with Sportsbet.io.
The rise of Valentino Livramento has been one of Southampton Football Club’s finest feel-good stories of 2021 – but it’s not just the St Mary’s faithful who are clocking onto his brilliance.
From Chelsea fans lamenting the loss of a special young player, to the 1.5million+ Fantasy Premier League managers who have transferred him into their teams this season, it feels as though the entire footballing world is now keeping tabs on Livramento’s journey.
That’s unsurprising, given what the 18-year-old has achieved in such a short space of time. No matter what challenge is placed in front of him, it takes him a mere few minutes to get to grips with it and impress.
His professional debut came in August at Goodison Park, a grand old stadium packed to the rafters with raucous supporters, the temple doors finally open to them again en masse after Covid-enforced absence.
On the morning of the game, Livramento had just 45 minutes in a Saints shirt in the bank (the second half of a pre-season tussle with Athletic Club), having arrived roughly a week beforehand.
Most expected a slow burn, a bedding in period as life changed dramatically for the teenager. But such was his early impact, he got the call to start, he played, and he excelled.
That sparked a rich vein of form; exceptional performances came against Manchester United, Newcastle, Leeds and more. His physicality, his technical ability, his composure, his decision-making – every week a different attribute shone as he steadily revealed his kaleidoscope of attributes.
Then last week, against Burnley, his first Premier League goal came, capping off a monster attacking performance in which he also hit the post and fired in a series of dangerous crosses. “I kind of couldn’t take it all in because it happened so quickly,” he said of his header after the game. “It’s one of the best feelings I have had so far.”
Only three Southampton players have started all nine Premier League games so far this season: goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, vice-captain Oriol Romeu, and 18-year-old Livramento. This very simple statistic marks out how vital he’s become to the side.
His powerful stride and ability to burst forward with the ball has added a new dynamic to Southampton’s attack. Few in the league have been able to stop him without resorting to the dark arts, and he’s made a mockery of a select few who have attempted to stick with him on those long runs.
Despite thundering down the flank and moving at such a pace, the smoothness and control of his movements never wavers; it makes him look like he’s playing in slow-motion despite doing the exact opposite – the mark of a great player, some would say.
Performance levels have been consistent, mistakes few and far between (and learned from quickly). Watch Livramento dominate a flank for 90 minutes without any prior knowledge, and you’d be stunned that his professional career is just 844 minutes old.
He is on track to be the breakout star of the 2021/22 Premier League season, so long as he continues to take just about everything in his long, powerful stride.