What Hibs are getting in Benfica signing Jair Tavares

The dishing out of a four-year deal to latest Hibs signing Jair Tavares speaks for itself: the Easter Road club have high ambitions for the player, who agreed to make the permanent switch from Benfica.
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Management have sold the 21-year-old on the promise of regular first-team football at a higher level. Jair Tavares (full name Jair Veiga Vieira Tavares) played the vast majority of last season in Segunda Liga, the second tier of Portuguese football with Benfica’s B team.

Anyone coming from the top flight of Portugal straight to a Scottish Premiership team not named Celtic or Rangers would be seen as something of a coup, though it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re going to get in the second tier. Will he live up to his promise and pedigree, or is this another Dalcio-to-Rangers scenario?

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From watching the player in action last term and from studying his advanced statistics on Wyscout, it’s clear to see Jair Tavares is a young man with plenty going for him but another few aspects of his game on which he needs to work.

Jair Tavares representing his nation of Portugal at international youth level. Picture: GettyJair Tavares representing his nation of Portugal at international youth level. Picture: Getty
Jair Tavares representing his nation of Portugal at international youth level. Picture: Getty

For those who want to see some speed inserted into the Hibs first-team, rest assured, this is a player who has plenty of quickness. He’s got a strong burst of acceleration and the agility to change direction in an instant, which is what you want to see in a winger. He’s a little on the short side but has enough strength that he shouldn’t be overly bullied in the Scottish game.

In addition to his size and movement, he displays decent ambidexterity, prefering his right foot but unafraid to use his left for touches, passes and shots.

His eye for goal is impressive as he netted 0.45 times per 90 minutes last term, which was backed by a shot percentage at 56.25 per cent. Comparing his stats with the top 35 wingers who played regularly in last year’s Premiership, he would’ve ranked second in both categories.

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He’s got the enthusiasm for taking on his man and trying to get crosses into the penalty box, but these are areas where his game could certainly use a bit of refining.

At 18.52 per cent, his crossing is well below the average you’d want from a wide player, while his 46.3 success rate at trying to beat full-backs is another which ideally would be 15 to 20 percentage points higher.

He has a tendency to go a bit quiet during games and play on the periphery. He also lacks a bit of belief at times in terms of his passing and will play it safe instead of forcing the issue, ranking third worse for passes to the final third and progressive passes per 90, respectively, when compared to Scottish counterparts last term.

Should he make the transition successfully from the Tagus to the Water of Leith, Hibs fans will have someone who can do the job Chris Mueller was supposed to fulfill when he arrived amid much fanfare in January: a quick and exciting winger who likes to drift inside and get shots away.

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Adapting to the Scottish game and playing the amid the pressure which comes with being at Hibs may be a bit of a culture shock, though. Some patience could be required.

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