The imposing £10m bargain international defender wanted by Wolves and Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest and Wolves are among the clubs linked with a defender who made an impressive debut for Brazil last weekend.
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You might have noticed Fabrício Bruno on Saturday evening – the 28-year-old centre-half, making his debut for his country at Wembley, was the large, bearded man who stood in the traditional captain’s place next to the goalkeeper and belted out the national anthem as though his very soul depended on it. He cut quite an imposing figure and certainly succeeded in imposing himself on Ollie Watkins and Phil Foden, locking down the right side of the Brazilian defence for large parts of the evening. Naturally, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Nottingham Forest want to buy him.

That, at least, is what’s being claimed by Fabrizio Romano, who took to Twitter to suggest that both Premier League clubs are in the market for the Flamengo man, along with Atalanta and unspecified clubs from the Middle East. It sounds like he’s developed quite a long list of admirers quite apart from the new Brazil manager Dorival Junior. But if Wolves or Forest did make a bid for him, what would they be getting?

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Romano suggests that a bid of €12-15m (£10-13m) would be necessary to secure his services and offer him a move outside of Brazil for the first time. Bruno’s whole career to date has come in his home country, playing for Cruzeiro, Red Bull Bragantino and Chapecoense (he was among the players loaned to them after the air disaster in 2016) before joining Flamengo, where he has shone and attracted long-awaited overtures from overseas.

As his appearance – he has the faint air of a henchman about to have his head kicked in by Jason Statham – implies, he is a strong player and his 6’4” frame makes him hard to get the better of in the air. A tough marker, he’s at home in a crowded six-yard box making sure he doesn’t get muscled out of the way in a rush for the ball.

But while the look of the man tells some of the truth, he’s a much more well-rounded player than may seem to be the case at first. For starters, although he’s hardly a shrinking violet in a one-on-one battle, he isn’t the kind of defender who hurtles about looking for a scrap. Instead, he’s positionally disciplined and prefers to force defenders to the wrong side of him rather than coming in with a crunching tackle. He can mix it up when he needs to, but he works smart rather than hard when he can.

That’s why he doesn’t have huge numbers behind when it comes to defensive contributions like tackles and interceptions but does force a lot of turnovers and doesn’t get beaten on the run too often. It helps that he’s got a good turn of pace for a big man, which not only means that he can keep up with quicker forwards – as Watkins can tell you after Saturday night – but he can function effectively in a high press, covering ground behind him when the ball comes over the top.

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He's also a very good passing defender, with a rock-solid completion percentage and a decent passing range. He looks for vertical balls forward more often than he looks to knock the ball sideways too, which is a boon for any side looking for quick balls forward and counter-attacking opportunities.

He isn’t a first-rate technician, rarely attempts to run with the ball himself, and nor does he look for opportunities to get upfield and join the attack – instead, he ploughs a disciplined furrow on the right-hand side of defence, seldom straying far from his assigned territory. His heat maps often take the shape of a straight line.

So he’s a rugged, disciplined defender with a decently broad skillset who would suit teams looking to get the ball forward as fast as possible – which sounds like a good match for Forest, in particular, who may well need someone to replace Murillo this summer, with the young Brazilian likely to be sold in the hope of avoiding further penalties for breaches of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules.

Bruno isn’t really proven at the top level, of course. A good debut outing for the Seleçao certainly suggests that he has the chops to compete in the Premier League, and he’s clearly convinced Dorival of his qualities. It will be interesting to see how he gets on in Europe – but as it stands, he has all the hallmarks of a bargain.