Bologna’s Player of the Month
Being named Bologna’s player of the month for October was undoubtedly a fine reward for Erick Pulgar, as he continues his excellent form in what’s been a coming of age season for the Chilean.
After two challenging years since joining from Universidad Catolica, where he still managed to produce glimpses of his talent, it’s been brilliant to see him grow into such an integral member of Roberto Donadoni’s squad this term.
Capable of playing at the base of midfield or as a more attack-minded central midfielder, the 23-year-old’s athleticism, technical gifts and footballing intelligence have been vital factors towards his fine form. Arguably at his most effective when operating in a more advanced role, Pulgar puts his multifaceted set of attributes to great use in this position.
Given greater licence to get forward when stationed higher, Pulgar can use his running power to make penetrative forward surges in behind opposition backlines, which are so hard to stop due to the dynamic advantage he holds over a usually stagnant opponent. In addition, the timing of his runs that sees him shrewdly target his runs on the blindside of his tracker, only serve to amplify his effectiveness.
In his team’s build-up play, his movement variations, in combination with his super spatial awareness, are also key elements as to why he’s such a tough customer for opponents to mark. He’ll drift wide to the wing, venture into the half space and even occupy the 10 spaces, all with the purpose of finding space to create advantageous scenarios for him and his teammates. Moreover, by performing subtle, smoothly executed rotations with one of his wingers, often Simone Verdi, this does a great job of causing additional confusion for the defending team in regards to who should mark him.
Once in possession, the technically proficient Pulgar provides a similarly damaging threat, for he’s an accomplished passer with a solid distribution range, has a slick first touch, crafty ball control and can wreak havoc with his skilful dribbling. Using his ability to read the play and process situations so quickly, he subsequently uses this to make quality decisions on the ball, as he’s proven himself to be very resistant to adversaries who like to aggressively press.
Meanwhile, defensively, his energetic approach to his work in this phase of the game sees him press with intensity, track his opponent vigorously, challenge manfully in aerial duels and importantly use his long legs to make vital interventions in a similar way the likes of Sergio Busquets, Nemanja Matic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Denis Zakaria do.
While the man who models his game on a mix of Busquets and his countryman Arturo Vidal still has some way to go to reach the level of his idols, it’s been encouraging to observe his huge upturn in form.
Now, the challenge will be for him to keep up his splendid form over a prolonged period. If he can do precisely that, then he’ll not only be well on his way to fulfilling his tremendous potential, but also one step closer to developing into one of the most threatening midfielders in Serie A.
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