Arne Slot’s Feyenoord are enjoying a strong Eredivisie campaign – even if their success has been overshadowed by the imperious PSV Eindhoven.

There are several key components to this exciting side – the 2nd highest scoring in the division – with the likes of Quinten Timber, Santiago Gimenez, Calvin Stengs, and many others attracting attention.

Igor Paixão (pronounced “pai-show” I’m told) – signed in the Summer of 2022 from Coritiba in Brazil – is one of the lesser-spoken of members of the side.

So, why are we talking about him?

Paixão hasn’t “dominated” the Eredivisie in the way that some other big money transfer targets have in recent years. In his opening 2 seasons in The Netherlands, Paixão’s goal tally sits at just 12, with 7 assists to his name as well. (Feb 2024)

But watching Paixão play paints a much more exciting picture of him. This isn’t a shy player trying to find his feet in a new division on a whole new continent, but a confident young man constantly looking to make an impact on the game.

Igor Paixão scores his first goal in European continental competitions – Image courtesy of Feyenoord

The young Brazilian “winger” primarily operates on the left side of attack, taking on the role of the modern wide forward and looking to cut inside to deal damage on his preferred right foot. 

But we aren’t just talking about a winger that starts wide and cuts inside with the ball. Paixão is a player who is constantly pulling and pushing at the defence.

Dragging the fullback out, piercing the space between fullback and centre-half, dropping deep, pushing high and sitting on the shoulder. Paixão wants to influence the game in a variety of ways.

It displays a good level of footballing intelligence in attacking situations. It’s no surprise that Paixão often finds himself in good shooting positions and generally influential positions in and around the opposition penalty area.

stats from fbref – last 365 days (comparison excludes top 5 European leagues)

He’s certainly a direct player. When Paixão gets an opportunity on the ball you can expect him to immediately look to progress towards the opposition goal as soon as possible. He has no qualms about taking on his opponent in a 1-on-1 directly.

The stereotype of “Brazilian winger” in many cases rings true for Paixão. He’s happiest with the ball at his feet and with an opportunity to make defenders look silly. He’s obviously not claustrophobic given his ability to navigate out of tight spaces.

He’s small, he’s agile, he’s got quick feet and a low centre of gravity. He’s quick, if not the quickest on the pitch. He’s not built like a tank, but he throws his weight around intelligently in duels. And despite often being the shortest player on the pitch (5’6!) he’s surprisingly quite a menace in the air.

If anything is lacking in Paixão’s game, it’s hard not to point to end product. For a player that moves so well and can both find and create space, there’s an argument to be made that the youngster will want to be a more regular feature on the scoresheet should his ambition lie at a club in one the “big 5” leagues in the future. 

It’s certainly not bad, he scores, assists, and creates many chances for teammates, but to make the step up from the Eredivisie, it may be one of the few things missing from his game.

stats from fbref – last 365 days (comparison excludes top 5 European leagues)

And is it time for Paixão to make that “step up” anyway? The Brazilian U23 international is still just 23 years old with less than two full seasons in Europe. Given the recent history of young wingers failing to live up to the hype after big-money moves, it’d likely be wise for Paixão to sit tight and continue his development in The Netherlands.

But he’s certainly one to keep an eye on. If Paixão continues to impress for Feyenoord and adds a few more goals and assists to his game, there will be no shortage of interested parties over the coming years.

Because ultimately, who can resist a direct, dribbling, goalscoring Brazilian winger?