On Monday, Atlanta United signed Brazilian midfielder Matheus Rossetto from Atletico Paranaense. But what kind of player is Rossetto and how will he fit into Frank de Boer’s set-up?
To understand how new signing Matheus Rossetto fits into Atlanta United I believe it is instructive to examine the possible roles that are available. Through the first season under coach Frank de Boer, the club has used a variety of formations and tactical setups. There has been a three-man midfield used and at times just two. The available roles with this in mind can be broken down into three distinct styles rather than positions.
Option number one is the holding disciplined midfielder. Think destroyer or a player with almost strictly defensive responsibilities. Current players who fit this style are Jeff Larentowicz, Eric Remedi or Mo Adams. These players rarely get forward or bomb ahead of the ball and stay deep in the midfield to protect against the counter-attack. They are also crucial to the structure of the team when defending deep.
Second is the Darlington Nagbe style that aims to control the midfield and link play between the back and the front. In this role, the midfielder isn’t tasked so much with creating attack. Rather, their aim is to shuttle the ball as quickly as possible to the creative players like Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez or Ezequiel Barco.
Finally, in the three-man midfield, there is a central attacking player. To this point in the preseason, while technically Atlanta United has been using a 3-4-3 shape that only consists of two central midfielders, that third player, Barco, has been dropping into the space behind the two Martinez strikers a pseudo-attacking-midfielder. Expect this to continue as de Boer seeks a way to fit Atlanta United’s three DPs on the field at the same time.
With the three options set, then, what style can Rossetto comfortably play?
From everything that I can gather, Rossetto is a mix between styles two and three. When in a two-man midfield, Rossetto should certainly be the more attack-minded of the two as his defensive qualities aren’t nearly as developed. In the three-man midfield, Rossetto could fill either the attacking of the three midfield roles or the ball-retention style that Nagbe played.
In the various Rossetto clips and reports that are available, he is a slick passer who is good on the half-turn and excellent at maintaining possession. There are also numerous instances that Rossetto picks up a loose ball from a turnover and creates separation with a sudden burst of speed before finding a pass to move the play forward.
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Rossetto’s stat profile sets up very comparably to Nagbe. For instance, has hovered around 90% completed passes. Nagbe was the only Atlanta United player to do so in the 2019 season. Rossetto also ranked highly in terms of long passing and average passes in a match. Defensively, Rossetto’s stats, while not shining, are respectable, averaging just under one tackle and one interception per match during his career.
As of today, without knowing how Rossetto adapts to a new situation as a young 23-year-old player, there are two key roles that the Brazilian is likely to fill. The first is very similar to the Nagbe role last year. While not a like-for-like replacement, Rossetto can potentially provide much of the smoothing impact Nagbe did in the heart of the Atlanta United midfield. In doing this, Emerson Hyndman would move back into more of a holding role, which is where he played before coming to Atlanta.
The second role I could see Rosetto playing is as a rotation piece for Barco or Pity Martinez in the attacking midfield spot. Atlanta United has more talented players than Rosetto in these spots but as an injury replacement or simply to rest one of those players, Rossetto could fill in.
No matter the role, Rossetto as a TAM salary earner should be expected to play 2000 minutes this season. And given how much talent Atlanta has lost throughout the offseason, especially in central midfield, his arrival is most welcome.