Giovanni Reyna is a 17-year-old attacking midfielder, and part of an emerging group of young American stars set to take the European game by storm. Currently, the youngster plays for Borussia Dortmund, where he looks set to follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Christian Pulisic and make a serious dent in German football.
The story so far
Gio was born in November 2002, and is the son of former American midfielders Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan. When Gio was born, his father was playing for Sunderland in England, and as such – Gio was born on Wearside.
As a youngster, Gio joined the New York City FC academy – the club at which his father was then the sporting director. While there, at the age of just 14, he helped his team win the Generation Adidas Cup – a tournament designed for players at the U17 age group. He even went and won player of the tournament.
He then went on to play a starring role in a USA under 15 team that won the famous Torneo delle Nazioni youth tournament. He assisted four goals and scored four more during that tournament, including the vital winner against England in the final.
At the age of 16, Gio joined Borussia Dortmund’s youth academy and spent last year playing his part for the Dortmund U19 side. This season, he has made 11 appearances in the U19-Bundesliga West, scoring four goals and assisting seven. Alongside that, he has played four matches in the UEFA Youth League, bagging four goals and an assist in that too.
He impressed enough to earn his first call up to the Dortmund squad last month, where he was named on the bench for Dortmund’s trip for a 5-0 battering of Dusseldorf. He even managed to get his first senior goal in a 4-2 friendly win over Feyenoord during the festive break.
On Saturday, he was named on the bench again for the first game back since the winter break. He made his senior debut from the bench, and played the final 18 minutes of the game against Augsburg – although his special moment may have been somewhat overshadowed by a debut hat-trick from a certain Norwegian forward…
Former coach Patrick Vieira likened Gio to his old French teammate, David Trezeguet – while the Bundesliga website compared the youngster to Brazilian legend Kaka. Both were incredible players and Gio should be honoured to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys, and I don’t think it’s unwarranted.
Gio has pace, he has power, he has a natural killer instinct and a determination way beyond that of anything you’d expect from a player of his age. His ability to run with the ball at his feet, force his way into the area and find the back of the net really is something to behold.
Once he’s in the area, Gio has the composure to be patient, to wait for a pass or to wait for the keeper to commit and put it past him and into the back of the net. The boy has ice in his veins when he’s in and around the 18-yard-box – he regularly demonstrates a level-headedness you see so rarely from a player of his tender age.
I have to say, the comparison to Kaka is a great one – he even looks a little like him from a distance in the way he runs with the ball and glides past hapless defenders. Although, the natural comparison for people to make given his nationality and the club he plays for, is Christian Pulisic.
I do think we should be careful comparing him too closely to Pulisic given that they are quite different in the way they play the game. Also, Pulisic became such a big player at such an early age for Dortmund – it’s unfair of us to expect Gio to do the same thing.
He has the ability to go on and spend a long career at the very top of the game, and I thoroughly believe we should all keep one eye on this lads career progression. In fact, I don’t think it’ll be very long at all until we’re finding it tough to take our eyes off of him…