Scouting Report: Gianluca Busio

The American Midfielder is One to Watch... Is He the Next De Bruyne?

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Sometimes when I’m researching an article, I go on a complete tangent and find a player that I didn’t really expect to see.

Gianluca Busio is one of those tangents - I didn’t know anything about him besides hearing his name before… because the MLS is 100% not my specialty.

However I actually came across Busio for the first time when I was doing a SmarterScout search for players that play like Kevin De Bruyne.

And it even showed that he’d be a top performer in the Premier League!

I know that no tool (or scout for that matter) bats a thousand, but it got me interested enough to spend the next three days watching tape and writing this report.

Let’s see how he stacks up.

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Player Details

Name: Gianluca Busio
Age: 19
Position: Central Midfielder
Club: Sporting KC
Rookie Cards: 2020 Season

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About Gianluca Busio

Okay, I can’t start with a Kevin De Bruyne comp and then just never mention it again, so I won’t bury the lead on you.

SmarterScout looks at a player’s frequency of completing an action, split into eight categories and calculated per minute either in or out of possession (based on the action).

With that quick explanation, here’s how Busio’s and Keven De Bruyne’s styles stack up.

Looking at this graph, you can see where the comps come from - both have similar numbers for shooting, receiving in the box, and defensive actions.

KDB is far more likely to hit a forward pass though (which makes sense when you see him play), while Busio is more likely to dribble.

Now, style also relates to how the player is used in a system - so these numbers are very much team/coach/player dependent.

But, the tool did say that Busio would be an effective Premier League player. Here are how Busio’s skill or impact numbers would compare to De Bruyne on a 0-99 scale.

As you can see, KDB is the absolute pinnacle of attacking output from the central midfield position, whereas Busio would be well above average for his position - which, to be fair isn’t bad for a teenager in the MLS coming into England.

However, I strongly doubt that Gianluca Busio would be an effective Premier League player right now, and I’ll go into why later on.

So, Is Busio as Good as Kevin De Bruyne?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: Fuck no.

And he shouldn’t be. He’s an 18 year old playing in the MLS, and if I could find players like that who are as good as Kevin De Bruyne is then I’d probably be working for Man City and not writing these free articles for you.

Funnily enough though, Busio is being coached in technique by the same guy who worked with De Bruyne when he was at Genk.

And, there’s a lot to like about Busio.

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Versatility and Maturity

For starters, Busio is incredibly versatile around the ground, I’m about to show you a bit of a heat map showing where Busio gets the ball, and what he does with it.

I want you to focus on how committed he is to drop back into the defensive half and link-up passes with the defenders and other players around him (the blue squares).

I love a central midfielder that has that metronome tendency to their game. Makes for solid ball usage all-round and to me and shows a lot of composure and awareness.

It’s also a great indicator of off-ball movement.

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Busio’s Shooting

One thing I don’t love about that field visualization is those big white squares outside the penalty box. Those white squares indicate shots.

To me, that shows that he takes shots positions in the field that aren’t too dangerous, and his numbers back that up. The vast majority of his shots are coming from areas that have less than 0.1 xG (I’d consider 0.1 to be the “average” xG per shot).

The fact that he’s having 2.55 shots per match is great, but the fact he’s doing it off 1.43 touches in the box, and generating an xG per 90 of only 0.2 isn’t great.

Looking at that and doing some quick math, that means on average, each of Busio’s shots generate 0.078 xG… not ideal.

Still though, the fact he’s getting those shots off in the first place means that he’s got some handy off-the-ball movement.

Check this shot for example, while it was definitely nothing special, the work he did off-ball to get into position and clear from a defender shows promise. He was just let down by his first touch.

However, his shot tendencies do mean that when he scores, it’s probably an absolute worldie.

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Ball Progression

I did mention Busio’s passing in a “go back and held the defenders” kinda way, but that’s selling him short.

Busio’s passing, especially forward and progressive passing, is another highlight of his game. His pass accuracy over his career has been in the 80s, which is awesome considering he’s been playing central midfield as a teenager.

Even his progressive passing rate and percentages are incredibly healthy too. Having an 81% success rate for progressive passes is pretty awesome - and check those stats on the loner passes. Wow.

If you remember the top of this article, when we compared Busio’s stats to project how he’d go in the Premier League, it said that he’d have really poor ball retention in the Premier League.

I’d assume a large factor to that is his size and dribbling - especially his progressive dribbling, where he loses the ball 70% of the time.

When his dribbles are shorter though, he’s actually quite successful. So there’s room to grow.

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I touched on Busio’s defending in passing earlier, but there’s a few things I want to go in more detail with.

To put all this in context… Basically, don’t let the big hair fool you - Busio is bloody small. He’s listed at 65kg (143 lbs) and he does get outbodied in man-on-man situations. To be fair though, that’s a part of the whole ‘teenager playing against men’ thing. A few more pre-seasons in him and you’d hope he’d put on a few more punds of muscle.

With that in mind though, his defending numbers - especially in the final third are great!

Obviously, the most dangerous place to win the ball is in your opponent’s defensive third, and Busio is doing that over two times a match.

And if you expand to the entire pitch, Busio’s recoveries and counterpressing recoveries are decent.

Again, a lot of this comes from his ability to read the play. But it isn’t just that. Sometimes it’s plain old effort. Check this play out. He out-works about half of Dallas’ side within four seconds.

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What’s Next For Gianluca Busio

According to all the articles I’ve read on Busio’s future, I’ve seen a few things:

  1. Big clubs like Barca are keeping tabs on Gianluca Busio

  2. He is keen to take his time and not rush to Europe too quickly

  3. The club obviously want to keep him for now, his value won’t be going down anytime soon

To me, that’s almost an ideal combo. How many promising players do we see take the first flight to Europe before they’re ready and piss away a career?!

It’ll be interesting to see how his next few years do play out. I know we spoke about the Premier League before but I can’t really see that happening anytime soon for a few reasons.

First, he’s getting outmuscled in the MLS. Get a hew more calories into him before putting him in the Prem. Also, while he does have an Italian passport, I’m interested to see how that all plays out in a post-Brexit market (I don’t know enough about Europe’s geopolitical issues, so don’t even bother commenting about it).

I’d be thinking he’s likely to go to Spain or Germany as a next step.

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Gianluca Busio For Collectors

Gianluca Busio first appeared card-wise in the 2020 Topps MLS sets. There are a few refractors, but no auto card.

There’s also no Topps Now card for Busio - and trust me, I looked.

It’s a pretty good time to get in on Busio cards actually because there’s only really been the one set.

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