Huddersfield Town fans have been treated to both the brilliant and the bizarre when it comes to Juninho Bacuna.
At an empty John Smith’s Stadium, calls from the Directors are loud and clear whenever the ball is in the midfielder’s possession: “Simple ball, Baca!” Simple isn’t the way Bacuna does things, though.
For every time you’ve seen Bacuna hold off three players and produce a piece of skill to wriggle himself free, you’ve seen him robbed of the ball easily. For every time you’ve seen him nestle a shot into the top corner from distance, you’ve seen him blaze wildly off-target.
That’s what you get from the 23-year-old and that’s never going to change. Sometimes he’s brilliant, other times he leaves you baffled. He is, to put it simply, inconsistent.
The positivity and bravery is often there with Bacuna, though.
One of his major strengths is his dribbling ability, as alluded to before. He’s got the presence to draw opposition towards him, before his quick feet pull him out of a tricky situation.
Wyscout’s stats tell us that Bacuna has averaged 2.79 dribbles per 90 this season in the Championship, with a success rate of 52.2%. Whilst that is undoubtedly a show of his bravery, it also underlines how inconsistent he is even in an area of strength.
The heat map above from Wyscout highlights the areas of the field that Bacuna likes to play in. Unsurprisingly for a midfielder, his heavily highlighted patches are in the middle of the field.
However, one thing that surprises you is how little Bacuna gets in the penalty area for a midfielder that’s given the licence to get forward due to the luxury of Jonathan Hogg in defensive midfield.
This season, Bacuna has averaged 1.61 touches in the opposition penalty area, which is incredibly low for a player that Carlos Corberan would view as part of his attacking arsenal.
The instinct to be brilliant that Bacuna has often sees him preferring to shoot from outside the penalty area, which is reflected in just 32.6% of his 50 shots this season hitting the target.
In Town’s recent win over QPR, Bacuna rifled home from distance to seal a 1-0 win. That was a good afternoon for the 23-year-old, who had been pulling together a series of consistent performances prior to the international break.
Bacuna, though, was off the boil in the 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday and produced an all-too-familiar performance in the midfield.
The potential is there for Bacuna to be a real hit with everyone at Huddersfield and not just the source of unpredictability that he is now. Whether he gets that chance to do that beyond the end of the season is unclear too, with the Curacao international out of contract and yet to find out if Town will trigger the 12-month option in their favour.
Football League World understand their plan is to do so, but given the timescale, it’s clearly something that’s been weighing heavily on the minds of those on the board.
If there was more of the brilliant and less of the bizarre, it would be a simple decision for those watching on.