Le50 2016: Steven Moreira – Stade Rennais
A player who Rennes fans will feel has been around for a long time now, Steven Moreira is still only 21 years old. It was back in May 2012 that the player from the eastern suburbs of Paris made his debut for Rennes, having joined the club as a 15-year-old in 2009.
Primarily a full-back at heart, Moreira has the ability to play in a wide number of positions. This has been to the benefit and detriment of the player as whilst it has allowed him to feature in a number games over the last few seasons, it has also given him a “utility player” status at the club. He has been played at both right- and left-back, in midfield and in more attacking wide roles by the Rennes coaches since he emerged.
His future is undoubtedly at right-back, where he plays for the French under-21 side. The problem for Moreira though is that at club level he has to compete with Rennes captain and legend Romain Danze. Previous highly-rated right backs Dimitri Foulquier and Kevin Theophile-Catherine have tried and failed to dislodge Danze but Moreira seems to have the patience to bide his time. The recent signing of a contract extension to 2018 is evidence of this. When signing the extension, Moreira told the club’s website that although “competition was strong” he could still progress with the club. Moreira also identified the impact of club advisor Mickael Silvestre: “I felt his confidence. He has a great deal of experience. We spoke a lot and I liked what he had to say”.
As with so many modern full-backs, Moreira is at his best when pushing forward. He is full of energy and pace and is always eager to get forward and support the team in attack – one of the reasons why he has previously been played in a more advanced role. He is good on the ball and capable of delivering very dangerous crosses. Despite being relatively short in stature, Moreria is deceptively strong, an attribute that proves useful when his defensive side is called upon. Over the last couple of seasons Moreira has worked hard to improve his mental game too. When he broke into the senior side he acknowledged “stress and desire to do well paralyses you a little. I had to learn to calm down.” This has had a positive impact so far but is something that needs to continue to be focussed on as he develops further.
If there is an area that Moreira needs to improve on it is his defensive duties. He often finds himself out of position or caught out when attack turns to defence. This may in part be due to the fact he is played in so many positions. If he was allowed time to focus on progressing in one position this consistency would come. Conversely, that does mean being able to play week in, week out, something that is not necessarily guaranteed at Rennes in the immediate short term in his prime position. It may be that he remains used for his versatility but with Rennes well stocked with wide players, Moreira would do well to request that he continues to be given chances in full back roles.
With questions over the long-term future of the right back position for the national side and the lack of an obvious candidate, fans will be keeping a close eye on the likes of Moreira to blossom and stake his claim to the shirt.