Deco was a versatile, tactically intelligent, and creative midfielder, with excellent vision and technical ability. A generous and hard-working team-player, he was capable of playing in several midfield positions; he was initially deployed as a central midfielder under manager José Mourinho, during his time with Porto, although he was also capable of playing as an attacking midfielder, as a deep-lying playmaker, or as a winger on either flank. Although he lacked pace, as well as notable physical, defensive, and athletic attributes, he possessed good stamina, as well as excellent ball control, dribbling skills, passing range, and crossing ability, which allowed him to beat players, find space, and create chances for team-mates. As he lost his acceleration, agility, and mobility in later years, he also underwent a physical development, which, along with his balance, enabled him to protect the ball against larger opponents. In addition to his creative duties, Deco was also capable of contributing offensively with occasional goals, due to his accurate mid-range shooting ability, and his adeptness at free-kicks. Despite his talent, Deco was also known to be injury-prone and inconsistent at times; furthermore, his work-rate and fitness were often brought into question in his later career. Deco was also notorious for his tendency to commit tactical fouls, and he was accused of diving throughout his career.