Keno Shows His Speed and Skill in Recent Displays for Palmeiras

keno

Keno has been an interesting player for Palmeiras in the Brasileirao. The season is still young, of course, but the 27-year-old attacker is showing glimpses of his best form. He is a tight and remarkably tricky dribbler, a guy who can get into goalscoring positions and, despite the occasional loose pass, someone who has a decent amount of end-product to his game.

That saw him score 10 times for Santa Cruz in last year’s Brasileirao. He also added seven assists throughout the course of that campaign, and after such strong contributions in the final third, Palmeiras were only too happy to snap him up. Now, after 4 starts and two appearances off the bench in 2017, Keno is looking lively on the left-hand side. He has enough pace and punch to make things happen at the pointy end of the pitch, and in Palmeiras’ recent 3-1 win over Fluminense, he scored his first goal of the current Brasileirao campaign.

In truth, Roger Guedes brought everything together. He found himself up against two defenders on the right-hand side, pressed up against the touchline, and it looked like his best option was to try and play it off one of his markers in order to win a throw-in. Guedes took a more flamboyant route, however, and played a quick little nutmeg before sprinting his way clear of the opposition players. He then made his way into the area and, after charging to the byline, played a sharp cutback into Keno’s feet. The wiry attacker side-footed the ball home from close range, and at that point, Palmeiras were 2-1 up and on the path to victory.

Keno was a bit quieter from there, which reflected the fact that Palmeiras were shutting up shot and attempting to hold onto their lead, but he still teed up a Guedes shot with a neat infield pass midway through the second half. On top of that, he also mixed in a few stepovers, 58 minutes in, to beat a defender before having a powerful effort saved by Fluminense goalkeeper Julio Cesar.

In a lot of ways, that last moment spoke to how Keno goes about it from the flank. He likes to receive the ball out wide, and while he has the ability to keep it simple, he’s at his most lively when he elects to go at a defender. A player with a wonderful array of tricks and changes of pace, he can casually sprint beyond an opponent with speed or try something a little more dramatic with the ball at his feet. This makes him an unpredictable dribbler, and not long ago, in a recent match against Atletico Mineiro, Keno showed off these talents soon after striking the crossbar with a well-hit shot.

Here, Keno kicked things off with his back to goal. He was inside his own half and had a defender right on his tail, but rather than take the safe option and pass back to a teammate who was facing forwards, he flicked the ball beyond his marker. He then spun sharply to run back onto the ball, and after disposing of his initial opponent, he was soon met with another. In a blur of arms and legs, Keno prodded the ball out in front of himself, easing past his marker in the process, before sprinting onwards. He followed up by playing the ball off a third defender in order to win a corner, and when you can do that, all on your own, after picking up possession in what was essentially a defensive area of the field, that’s pretty impressive.

Palmeiras almost scored from the ensuing corner, with Yerry Mina pushing his lunging shot just wide of goal. That goes to show how important a player like Keno, who can produce moments of dynamism at the drop of a hat, can be to a team. When games are drifting by, a direct, pacey attacker who has a bag of tricks can be extremely useful, and in Keno, Palmeiras have one.

If there’s an area he needs to work on, it’s probably linking up in slower sequences of build-up play. He’s great at the more direct stuff, at cutting inside onto his right boot or breaking in behind the opposition backline, but when the requirement for something a little more subdued is there, he can occasionally be a bit wayward with his passing. That’s illustrated by the fact that, although he was an assist generator with Santa Cruz last season, he only completed 72% of his passes. That number is even lower in the early going of the current Brasilierao campaign, at 67%, and it’s probably something he’ll be looking to tidy up as time at Palmeiras continues.

Even so, he’s an excellent player. An entertainer on the pitch, Keno’s slight frame, mazy dribbling and ability to contribute to goals not only make him a fun player to watch, but also an effective one. Place him alongside other exciting Palmeiras arrivals such as big money signing Miguel Borja and Alejandro Guerra, and there’s no reason why he can’t thrive within a strong Palmeiras attacking unit.

That could be important, as after a slow start to the new Brasileirao season, Palmeiras need to build upon the momentum of their win against Fluminense if they hope to defend the title. At the moment, that hope seems some way off, but after just six matches, there’s still plenty of time remaining for Keno and his teammates to shift gears.