The Bacuna family has a solid reputation in Groningen. Known in the area since youth, the brothers are associated with a brash approach to life and football. This supreme confidence in their own ability has helped two of three footballing siblings reach Premier League heights. Whilst Leandro was relegated with Villa and offloaded to Reading, young Juninho Bacuna will hope to stick around in the top tier for longer.
An attacking midfielder, Bacuna was awarded his FC Groningen debut in 2015 at the age of just 17. Later that year, the Green & White Army won the KNVB Beker and qualified for the following season’s Europa League. Since then, he has amassed 87 Eredivisie appearances for the club. He began to establish as a presence in 2016, and in 2017-18 Bacuna cemented his position as a first-choice central midfielder.
Abilities and characteristics
At his best, Bacuna is a combative and dangerous player. He is naturally slender in frame, but his core strength and athleticism helps him compete with heavier opponents in midfield. That said, don’t be surprised if Wagner points him towards the weights during pre-season.
Bacuna certainly knows how to pick a pass. For better or worse, he often risks the magic ball through to the front men, favouring long diagonal passes over simpler play. He likes to work with quick attackers who stretch opponents, although in his latter months at FC Groningen he was starved of this luxury. Bacuna’s taste for passing flair is what makes him so deadly, and if the Terriers can exploit space with pace, he will find the cutting pass.
The 20 year-old has played a lot of minutes for one so young, but the frustration among fans has been his lack of end product. As a central midfielder with a true attacking mindset, his return should have been better than two goals and eight assists in 87 league appearances. The man isn’t shy of a long-distance belter either, so you’d expect better goal-scoring numbers.
Bacuna also has a tendency to go missing for large periods of a match, effective in bursts rather than taking command of the game. He has looked lethargic on occasion, and with brutal punishment for Premier League sluggishness, Wagner will hope Bacuna can maintain his energy for 90 minutes. He usually performs well against the bigger teams, which is a good indicator that the Dutchman is ready to play at a higher level.
Overall, Bacuna is a promising young player with considerable first-team experience. He is confident, talented, and positive in his play. Despite his reputation for throwing a tantrum, he doesn’t take life too seriously and enjoys a good rapport with the fans. He will give the ball away now and again, but if the fans offer him freedom to play without fear, Bacuna’s creative talents will shine through. If he can find consistency, Huddersfield will have a new star.