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2023 Player Preview: Talles Magno

The 20-year-old superstar-in-the-making has all the ingredients for the breakout season that NYCFC will need from him

Sun’s out, guns out.
Photograph courtesy

Talles Magno

Position: Forward
Age: 20
2022 MLS Season: 35 matches, 32 starts, 2096 minutes played, 8 goals, 10 assists
Key Stat: 99th percentile in dribbles completed vs MLS forwards

What went right in 2022:

When New York City FC signed Talles Magno in May 2021 from Vasco de Gama, the young Brazilian arrived with a hefty price tag and high exceptions. Talles Magno gave fans a taste of his talents after making his debut halfway through the 2021 season, but the 2022 season served as his first complete body of work in NYCFC colors. With that jump in matches played came a jump in responsibility — and a jump in his impact on the club.

He finished the season with a balanced 8 goals and 10 assists across all competitions. While he saw his role increase after the departure of star striker Taty Castellanos in July, it also meant Talles Magno made the shift from his preferred position on the left wing to a more central position as striker, where he found mixed success.

In the end, it seemed that think most fans were pleased with Talles Magno’s growth from 2021 to 2022. A total of 18 goal involvements for a player who had only just turned 20 years old is an impressive tally on its own, but it was his overall play that captured the league-wide attention that landed him in the #3 spot on the MLS “22 Under 22” list last year. His dribbling is elite — his 2.43 dribbles completed per game puts him in the 99% vs other forwards. His flair, and instincts are all top-class for someone his age, and the fact that he’s already adding goals to his game is a good sign for someone who will have to play an even greater role in the club next year.

What to improve:

While Talles is already an immensely talented player, he is still far from what you might consider a finished product. But that’s a good thing for NYCFC: Despite already being a phenomenal player, Talles Magno has room to grow.

The main area of growth for Talles Magno is his finishing. He tends to find the back of the net from close range, often by getting on the end of a cross or a cut-back pass, and rarely scores from the top of the box or unexpected angles. True, his on-field intelligence means he puts himself in good areas where he can slot it home, but he’s hardly smashing in curlers from long range like Tommy Mac, going for acrobatic bikes like Taty, or lobbing the keeper from halfway like David Villa.

With the current opening at No 9 for NYCFC, it’s very likely that Talles will play even more games as a central striker this season. If that’s the case, he’ll have to take more chances and convert at a better rate than what he managed last year. Plus, Talles Magno could stand to use a bit more Taty-esque tenacity on the defensive side. It could go a long way to the team’s overall effectiveness when he plays as a striker.

What to expect in 2023:

While he demonstrated the ability to both score and create goals last season, Talles Magno’s exceptions for next season should be simple: Score and create more goals. This comes not just from the expectation of year-over-year improvement from a young player, but also from a place of necessity for NYCFC.

Taty’s exit last season is reason enough. Add to that the departures of Maxi Moralez, Héber, and Santi Rodríguez, and now Talles Magno will find himself as the attacker with the highest expectations for NYCFC. Period. He’s no longer the “young talent with high potential,” but “the star player who needs to produce.”

This is especially so if he ends up being our central striker rather than our left winger. Yes, goals can come from anywhere, but recent MLS Cup winners tend to have one thing in common: High-volume scorers at center forward.

While I don’t think anyone’s expecting Talles Magno to reach Josef Martinez-circa-2018-level production, a double-digit goal tally paired with healthy assist numbers should be the minimum. If you have to put a number on it, I think around 25 goal involvements.

All of this comes with a lot of pressure, especially for someone as young as Talles Magno — we have to remind ourselves that he is only 20, and legally can’t drink in the United States. (He’ll turn 21 on June 26.) Still, I think he’ll need to score more goals, bag more assists, and assert himself as the face of the NYCFC attack this season.

Because if not Talles Magno, who else?

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