Heading into the final day of the season, Bordeaux were two points adrift of 6th -placed Nice, who were holding the final European qualifying spot in Ligue 1. In the end, it was a 4-0 win over the already-relegated Metz, as well as a late winner from Memphis Depay in Lyon’s match against Nice, that sealed the Bordeaux’s Europa League berth. A miracle for a team who had been all but down and out in 15th at Christmas. By contributing a goal and an assist to the rout, Malcom could not have come up with a better parting gift. With three goals in as many games during the Girondins’ run in, the Brazilian winger, criticised for a downturn in attitude in the face of his imminent transfer, seems to have rescued his Bordeaux legacy and will be fondly remembered in the south-west of France.
With the Ligue 1 season at its close, Malcom now faces a decision not unlike the one that first led him to Bordeaux. Having shined with Corinthians at the start of his career, he was not short of potential suitors at a young age, with the likes of Manchester United showing interest. While the prospect of a switch to a big club straight away – in the vein of Neymar – may have seemed enticing, he knew that many a Brazilian talent had faltered at this step.
The São Paulo native instead chose the more sensible option, electing to make the intermediary move to Bordeaux, a club well-known for its success with South Americans – notably with his compatriots Henrique and Jussiê. Having developed beyond the level of the team and fully established himself in a European league, it is inevitable that this summer the move to a big club finally happens.
Malcom’s style of play contrasts with that of the average Brazilian wonderkid touchline hugger. As Bordeaux’s creator-in-chief, he has notched 7 assists over the course of the season and is comfortable cutting into the middle to play passes forward. He is also adept in front of goal, with his trademark drilled long shots taking up most of his 12 goals this season. In this sense, a move to Bayern Munich, the club who have most prominently been linked with the youngster at this early stage of the window, would seem suitable given the crucial role that their wide men have played in the team. Acquiring Malcom would go a long way towards replacing the soon to be retired Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben.
The winger himself had stated that he wanted to move on to “an elite club and play for the Brazilian national team” and has been learning English in preparation for his imminent transfer, possibly to the Premier League. Having not been selected for Tite’s squad for the World Cup, Malcom will be looking more than ever to put himself in the spotlight and be in contention for future Brazil call-ups.
To the irritation of Bordeaux fans, he has openly talked about joining the Bavarians, and big clubs in general, multiple times during the closing months of the season. Nevertheless, the club has been resigned to losing him since last summer’s window, when the club refused an array of offers worth more than €40m from Germany (but not from Bayern) and convinced Malcom to stay.
He had also been the subject of interest from Arsenal during the January transfer window. Sven Mislintat, the new head of recruitment at the Emirates, had previously targeted Malcom while at Dortmund last year as the Germans saw a €40m rejected by Bordeaux.
While eventually the Gunners moved on from him in the winter, it is entirely possible that the Brazilian could be part of a shake-up inspired by the arrival of new manager Unai Emery, who will know about the Brazilian having faced him as PSG manager. Speaking at the start of last season, the Basque tactician had praised Malcom’s decision to stay in the south west of France, stating that he is a “player who can still grow even more” and that he was “a big player for Bordeaux as well as our league”.
Up the road, Spurs have also been linked with a move for a player who would bring an added source of service from the wing to Harry Kane. Having also tried to bring Malcom to North London this winter, the club had not been able to meet the Bordeaux management’s asking price. With Champions’ League football secured, they would seemingly undoubtedly seem the more attractive prospect to the Brazilian in North London.
Another potential destination that has emerged recently has been Liverpool, with the Reds potentially losing Mohamed Salah this summer. Nevertheless, Malcom would most likely not be able to replicate the Egyptian’s goalscoring prowess, while his tendency to act more as a playmaker would change the dynamics of Liverpool’s prolific front three. In addition, Malcom is not one to track back and work hard in pressing, an attribute invariably needed in Klopp’s systems.
Overall, while Bayern Munich seem the best placed to capture Malcom this summer, the door is still open for a potential move to the Premier League. Although it seems that Arsenal’s board are the most admirative of him, Champions’ League football is what Malcom will be looking for; and Tottenham will be the more likely destination should the Brazilian turn to the Premier League.