Today saw the announcement that Huddersfield Town have signed FC Groningen midfielder Juninho Bacuna for an undisclosed fee. The Dutch Under 21 international arrives as Town’s sixth signing of the summer.
This piece will offer an insight into who Juninho Bacuna is and what we as fans may expect to see.
To do so, we reached out to Michael Bell, the editor and founder of Football Oranje and freelance journalist Yordi Yamali to get a true insight into all aspects of Juninho Bacuna’s character, playing style and potential.
Position and Playing Style
As Juninho Bacuna follows in the footsteps of his brother Leandro with a move to the Premier League, the first question that springs to mind is what position Bacuna plays and his playing style be described:
“Bacuna is a central midfielder, who can also play as a DM. He is aggressive in the tackle but also a lovely dribbler and passer. Was a standout in a poor Groningen side for the past two seasons and he is definitely ready for a step up”.
With David Wagner flirting with the idea of a three-man midfield as part of potentially a 5-3-2 set-up, Juninho Bacuna arrives seemingly as a versatile box-to-box midfielder with the ability to potentially serve as a foil for Aaron Mooy and Jonathan Hogg with his energy and well-rounded ability.
However, whilst Bacuna will certainly bring industry and tenacity, it is his innovation and imagination as a mobile deep-lying playmaker which makes him such a highly-rated starlet.
With close control, the ability to commit the opposition, the vision to thread passes through the lines and carve open the opposition, Bacuna arrives already looking like a genuine alternative to Mooy and Hogg.
Whilst Bacuna clearly has the potential and ability to be a success story at Huddersfield Town, it then becomes a matter of whether the question marks surrounding the Dutchman will see his playing time limited next season.
Temperament and Discipline
One of the major question marks surrounding Juninho Bacuna is his temperament and discipline, with one of his weaknesses being described as over-aggression. This has seen “him (get) in trouble sometimes (leading to) a lot of yellow cards so far in his career”.
Already in Bacuna’s short footballing career, the combative central midfielder has been sent off three times in the space of a single season.
This led to Bacuna holding the unwarranted record as the youngest player in Eredivisie history to receive three red cards in a single season, a record that he remarkably took from his brother Leandro Bacuna.
Despite these disciplinary issues, Juninho took a step in the right direction last season as his maturity began to shine through with the 20-year-old midfielder only picking up six yellow cards despite being an ever-present for FC Groningen.
Whilst progress has begun to be made, David Wagner will be tasked with tempering Bacuna’s aggression and temparement to ensure that he doesn’t become a potential liability in a league where fine margins make all the difference.
Adjusting to life outside of Holland
The other major question mark is how quickly and well Bacuna will adjust to life in England and to life in the Premier League.
We have seen on countless occasions, even for vastly experienced players, how the on the field performances can be off-setted by how a new arrival settles into the surroundings of a new club and in this case, a new country.
However, Juninho Bacuna finds himself in a unique position. As mentioned previously, Juninho’s brother Leandro is also plying his trade in England with Championship side Reading.
Bacuna will, therefore, be in an advantageous position to settle to life in England much quicker than other potential arrivals. Especially with his compatriots, Terence Kongolo and Rajiv van La Parra likely to take the Dutch midfielder under their wing.
Regardless, there is undoubtedly a major step up in pace, intensity and quality from the Dutch Eredivisie. However, it seems to be a natural move for Bacuna as:
“His game suits the Premier League and in David Wagner, he has a coach who can develop him and make him better, like he has done with van la Parra”.
Like many of Town’s signings over the past twenty four months, David Wagner seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to unlocking the potential of new arrivals.
“He is still only 20 and raw so I wouldn’t expect him just to walk into the Huddersfield line up and it may take him some time to adapt”.
In the case of Juninho Bacuna, the Dutch Under 21 international is already an exciting prospect and under the tutelage of David Wagner, we could now see the 20-year-old’s development accelerate.
As David Wagner has stated, Juninho Bacuna arrives as a replacement for Dean Whitehead who retired at the end of last season, that would suggest that Wagner’s plans are to introduce Bacuna into the first-team set-up offering him the opportunity to prove why he should feature regularly for Town in the Premier League next season, whilst one eye remains firmly on the future.