Bryan Gil: The Tenacious Teen Thrilling LaLiga
Written by Alan Feehely
Technique and tenacity, guile and bite. It’s a rare combination in the modern game, even more so when we’re talking about slight wingers. On loan at Eibar, however, from the giants of Andalusia, Sevilla, such a player exists. His name is Bryan Gil.
Gil was born in Barbate, a town in the province of Cádiz, on February 11th, 2001. He started his career with his local side, Barbate, before joining Sevilla at the age of 10, his father taking him to the Andalusian capital five times per week in a 300-kilometre round trip.
He impressed in the youth ranks at the club, making his B-team debut at the beginning of the 2018/19 season before earning promotion to the first team in January of 2019, coming on as a late substitute in place of Wissam Ben Yedder against Atlético Madrid.
Highly touted and blessed with clear potential, he found it difficult to earn significant game time in a Sevilla team chasing Champions League football and was sent out on loan to Leganés for the second half of 2019/20 and has been at Eibar this season. He’s excelled, developing his game, performing more consistently and offering an element of unpredictability and audacity to José Luis Mendilibar’s Eibar team.
His showings in the Basque Country have led many Sevillistas to cast admiring glances in his direction, looking forward to his return. He offers an aggression and ability that would theoretically pair well with Lucas Ocampos, who plays on Sevilla’s right, and is largely absent from Suso’s game on the left, where Gil would play.
Anyone who’s watched Eibar this season can testify to how impressive he’s been. A direct and penetrative runner, Gil attacks opponents without fear. As quick-footed as he is tenacious, the ‘Beatle of Barbate’ (nicknamed for his hairstyle) has the grit to finish out attacks and deliver end-product. Deceptively strong, with a wiry frame, the Andalusian is a consistently disruptive presence in the final third.
The stats back up this hypothesis. Gil has contributed 37 shot-creating actions so far this season in LaLiga, averaging 3.34 per 90 minutes. He’s attempted 50 take-ons and completed 25 of them, a success rate of 54%, while he’s made 80 progressive carries, 24 of which broke in that all-important final third.
Overall, Gil has carried the ball 412 times, accumulating total yards of 2,562 (1,430 of which were progressive). He’s dribbled past 31 players (10th in LaLiga) and has nutmegged five (first in LaLiga).
His xA is 3.1 (eighth in LaLiga), broken down per 90 as 0.28 (eighth in LaLiga). Gil has completed 53 crosses (fifth in LaLiga), 10 of which have been in the penalty area (ninth in LaLiga). He’s scored three goals so far this season, with these statistics all the more impressive given he’s played just 55% of Eibar’s minutes in 2020/21.
Interestingly, Gil has committed 15 fouls and drawn 25. This last stat hints at the aforementioned aggression and bite, a valuable trait in a young player trying to make it in the game but especially in a position as historically mercurial as winger.
All of this bodes well for Gil’s future. Given his level of performance it would appear inevitable that he’ll be welcomed back to the Sánchez-Pizjuán with open arms when his spell up north comes to an end, and he looks well-placed to offer Julen Lopetegui’s side something they’ve been lacking.
Suso is too inconsistent to ever be the player the Andalusians need if they want to take the next step, while Ocampos’ performance levels have dipped this season. Sevilla have also been hampered by the loss of creative rainmaker Éver Banega in the summer, with Ivan Rakitić unable to impose himself on games in the same manner as the Argentine.
The Andalusians’ threat from out wide - so potent last season as they finished fourth and won the Europa League - has also been nullified by 35-year-old right-back Jesús Navas’ evident fatigue and the departure of left-back Sergio Reguilón to Tottenham Hotspur. Marcos Acuña, his replacement, is capable but not as effective offensively as Reguilón.
That’s where Gil could come in. A direct runner loaded with tenacity and technique, the teenager could be the disruptive player who opens up opposition defences and creates space for team-mates to attack. What’s for sure is that his attitude and strong personality will thrill a city as hot as Seville, who’d greet a nutmeg like they would have historically greeted a brave matador slaying a bull.
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