He is just 18 years old and has played only 13 matches in the senior team at Sporting Lisbon, but age and inexperience have not got in the way of influential Portuguese outlet A Bola from announcing Bruma as “the next Cristiano Ronaldo.”
It’s quite the claim, and one that would surely have sounded flat-out ridiculous had the winger not taken the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup by storm, scoring five goals in the group stage games while turning each of his forward-minded teammates into attacking weapons.
Against Cuba in Portugal’s Thursday Group B encounter, Bruma got things going after just a quarter of an hour when, after springing down the left-hand side of the park, he squared a perfect ball for Porto’s Ricardo to turn into a wide-open net.
He opened his own account on the day with just two minutes remaining in the first half when his perfectly-timed run took him through the offside trap and onto Tozé’s excellent pass for his own tap-in, and shortly after the hour mark his spectacular half-volley from distance opened up a four-goal lead as Portugal cruised to the top of the bracket.
If there is a stylistic similarity between Bruma and Ronaldo, it is almost certainly intentional.
“I really like Cristiano Ronaldo,” the U-20 star told FIFA.com earlier in the week. “I think he’s got a lot as a player and I don’t mind saying that I try to copy what he does. Who knows? I might be able to achieve what he’s done one day.”
Surprisingly powerful for his 5’8” frame, Bruma prefers to operate on the left but can work the channels down the opposite flank as well. In Portugal’s 2-0 win over Nigeria earlier in the competition, both his goals came after making runs from either wing, and given that he is two-footed, he was able to both swerve outside a defender or cut inside for a shot on goal.
Still, he is very much an unfinished product, and as he prepares for his first full campaign in senior Portuguese football, he is a diamond that could use some polishing. The raw talent is evident, but even he acknowledges the edges are a bit rough.
“I love fooling around and playing the clown,” he remarked in the FIFA interview. “There are times during training sessions, however, when the coaches don’t like it. I know I’ve got to take things more seriously, change a little and concentrate on my finishing.”
If his showing in Turkey can be used as evidence, it would seem he has been working hard to address both items.
His finishing has been the best in the competition, and his exuberance has only enhanced what is a unique, exciting set of natural abilities.