Talles Magno is my answer to this one. Here’s why:
Magno was among the biggest incoming transfers last season. The former Vasco de Gama attacker came to NYCFC for an $8 million fee that could go as high as $12 million with performance incentives, but had a very underwhelming 2021 campaign. The teenager produced just two goals and zero assists in 500 minutes for the Pigeons, which left people wondering: why exactly did the club pay all that money for him?
Last season, it was difficult to see where Magno could actually fit into the NYCFC lineup. While he seemed to be able to get into dangerous areas in the box, he couldn’t play striker because New York City already had the best striker in MLS in Valentín Castellanos. On the wing, it was evident that he was very strong with the ball, but he failed to combine with his teammates. The Brazilian played almost like a kid spamming random skill moves in FIFA.
This year has been totally different for Magno, thanks in part to a full recovery from the knee injury that he suffered at Vasco de Gama. With Jesús Medina’s exit to Russia, Magno is a guaranteed starter out wide. The young Designated player is making a strong case that he is among the league’s elite, ranking 3rd in Goals Added (g+) on a per 96 minute basis among players with at least 400 minutes.
Magno is clearly in the midst of a breakout season.
He has been dominant on the ball using his rare combination of size, speed, and technical ability to bully opposing defenders. More important is that Magno is combining well with his teammates and the extra attention that defenders are now forced to give him is opening up runs for other NYCFC attackers. Magno is already among the MLS leaders in assists – and it’s reasonable to expect him to start scoring more goals, too. Although the Brazilian only has a single goal in regular season play, his expected goals mark of 3.07 means that, among wingers, he only ranks behind San Jose’s Cristian Espinoza (3.63) and LAFC’s Carlos Vela (3.09).
The accolades are also beginning to come in for Magno, who won the CCL young player award in addition to a spot in the tournament’s Best XI. Don’t be surprised when he is among MLS’s best at the end of this season.
For a player that most weren’t talking about at the beginning of the year, Magno’s glow-up has been remarkable. Enjoy him in MLS while you can.