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Unknown Possebon hits headlines

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Tim Vickery | 11:05 UK time, Monday, 29 September 2008

Thankfully the injury suffered last week by young Manchester United midfielder Rodrigo Possebon was not as serious as first feared - which makes it easier to look on the bright side.

At the cost of pain and worry, at least the incident has done wonders for his profile back in the land of his birth.

United supporters often ask me how highly Rodrigo is regarded by the Brazilian public. The easy answer is that - until last Wednesday at least - he was not regarded at all.

Very few people over here had even heard of him, for perfectly understandable reasons.

Before his move to Manchester I don't recall him appearing in the first team of Internacional, the Porto Alegre club who produced him.

He has two compatriot team-mates in a similar situation. Full-back twins Fabio and Rafael were whisked away to Old Trafford before making it to the Fluminense starting line up. But at least their progress had been followed playing for Brazil last year in the South American Under-17 Championships, the Pan-American Games and the World Under-17 Cup.

Interestingly, Fabio looked clearly the more impressive of the two, captaining the side and scoring a river of goals from left-back. But so far his brother has had more opportunities with United - a sign that the process of adaptation can follow an unpredictable path.

It's a path, though, that an increasing number of talented South American youngsters are sure to follow - because it doesn't matter what the regulators do, the giant European clubs are going to hoover up the top players from all over the world.

Fifa's plan to restrict this process, the so-called six plus five, looks doomed to fail because it discriminates on the basis of nationality, and therefore falls foul of European Union legislation.

Uefa's more feasible counter-proposal is the obligation on the clubs to possess a certain quantity of 'home produced players' - these can be of any nationality, and to qualify need to spend three years with the club between the ages of 15 and 21.

There are restrictions on players moving countries before the age of 18 - so this at the age at which the European clubs move. They can get their hands on the youngster at an age when he still has time to go through the process and be considered a home produced player.

This all makes sense - but it's easy to forget that we are dealing here with human beings and not scientific formulas.

The 18-21 age is a time when adolescents are becoming men. Living abroad is not for everyone, however mature. Going through a time of change in a foreign culture will inevitably put an extra strain on some of the youngsters.

Rodrigo Possebon in action against Middlesbrough

Then there is the peculiarity of football. It is hard to think of another career that has a step up as steep as the transition from reserve to first team player in a major team.

Suddenly the youngster's work is observed and judged by thousands in the stadium and a global TV audience of millions. It can be a frightening change for any young man, let alone one thousands of miles from home.

That is, of course, if he is given the opportunity to play in the first team. With the giant squads that the major clubs now carry, there is always the risk that the youngster will be squeezed out and overlooked, and his career will lose momentum as a result.

Because the club picked him up when he was 18 and a relative unknown the financial investment in him has been relatively small. If he doesn't come through then from the club's point of view it's just another academy product who didn't quite make the grade - time to forget all about him and move on to the next hopeful.

The early move to Europe can point to some success stories - Jorge Valdano has argued persuasively that Lionel Messi is a wonderful synthesis of Argentine street football and the Barcelona academy. Messi, though, has been in Spain since was 13, and so spent his entire adolescence abroad.

But there have been plenty of casualties and there will surely be more - those whose career has run aground, left reflecting that they would have been better advised to take things step by step, maturing and making a name for themselves in their country of origin before embarking on their European adventure.

Please leave comments on the topic of this article in the space below - it would be great if the debate could be as rich and interesting as the one you all produced after last week's piece. Send questions on other topics related to South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.
Watching Serie A this season Lavezzi and Zarate have been really eye-catching, is there any chance that they could get a chance in the senior Argentine side? Or are they too similar to Aguero?
David Lewindon

Neither of them have been called up for the coming World Cup qualifiers, and nor has Lisandro Lopez of Porto. Coach Basile has made a real gesture of faith in Tevez, who's been sent off in then first half of both the last two qualifiers he's played - and who only has 7 goals in 42 caps. So it's delivery time for Tevez - if not all three of these are in line to overtake him. Argentina's attack is Messi plus one - at the moment I imagine Aguero's in pole position to be that one. There's so much competition in terms of nippy, stocky strikers. Zarate can certainly play alongside Aguero - they won the World Youth Cup together last year.

Incidentally, Diego Milito has been called up - he has another chance to establish himself as the target man.

As a Newcastle fan I would like to know what your opinion is of Nacho Gonzalez, the player we have just signed on loan. Is he any good? Do you think he can cut it in the premier league? Or is he just another journeyman that Newcastle seem to acquire all the time?
Ravi Sood

I wouldn't call him a journeyman, but he wouldn't be my choice for the Premier League. He's an elegant playmaker, I've enjoyed his performances in Uruguay for Danubio, but I'm not sure he's right for England. I'd love to be proved wrong on this, but I fear that the rhythm of his game is too slow and that he's not mobile enough.


  • Comment number 1.

    Another piece of journalistic artistry Mr Vickery, keep up the good work !

  • Comment number 2.

    Another very interesting read. Good to see the questions back. Keep it up Tim.

  • Comment number 3.


    Excellent article, as always.

    Diego Buonanotte, good enough to make the switch to Europe, Premiership in particular or too small and lightweight?

    I have heard that technically he is excellent.

  • Comment number 4.

    Great article again Tim.

    Like you state, despite Jorge Valdano's musings about Messi, he has been in Spain since the age of 13 so he has matured in that country and culture in the period of life where people learn the most about themselves and indeed their surroundings, therefore Valdano's point seems slightly invalid.

    It's just a shame that money can get you so much nowadays. The true talents will be the ones that make the move to Europe a bit later and give themselves the chance to develop in a place that they find comfortable. Kaka is a fine example of this.

  • Comment number 5.

    Can you tell me how all these teenage South Americans manage to get work permits to play in England , yet when people we've actually heard of try, if they haven't quite got the required number of international caps are told 'no chance'.
    Or do the rules only apply to smaller clubs?

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi guys,

    For more info on Possebon's background, you can my site-

    Tim, for your next blog, can you give your views on the current situation at Vasco and Flu! With Ipatinga beating Vasco on the weekend two of Rio's biggest clubs are now deep in a relegation battle.

  • Comment number 7.


    Yet again your column blows everyone else out the water. You really should be like head football journilist or something similair.

    I agree about the steep gradient on the transition from reserve football against 16 and 17yo's in front of a few hundred to highly competitive games againt world class player in front of millions. The step from junior football to senior football at my lowly county level was ahrd enough and i was quite a mature and independent 17yo.......

  • Comment number 8.

    Please move back to England and take over responsibility for all BBC football journalism. Not only do you know what you are talking about, you write (and speak) well and can structure a sentence and spell. These are talents not shared by many in the BBC!

  • Comment number 9.

    BBC....... As many others would agree, Tim should get a good pay-rise. Considering the amount you must spend on some of the rubbish that gets on the site, Tim really does deserve every penny.

  • Comment number 10.

    I second the comments commending this blog - way better than Messrs Robson and McNulty.

    As a United STH, I have to say, I'm a big fan of Possebon. Both he and Rafel Da silva look excellent, and fabio will I'm sure get other chances to show his unboubted skill. For me, Rafael Da Silva is a shoe-in for the right-back berth for years to come at Old Trafford; he's tough, attacking, and an excellent passer of the ball.

    Possebon is growing into a Bryan Robson-type in my opinion, and good players are always given time at OT. Best of luck to them all, and thanks for another very well-informed blog, Tim.

  • Comment number 11.

    10. At 1:37pm on 29 Sep 2008, CantonasCollar79 wrote:
    I second the comments commending this blog - way better than Messrs Robson and McNulty.
    I love ur articles Tim,very insightful. Robbo's articles on the other hand are quite funny but they nevertheless drive home the point. Two different approaches, quality articles!

  • Comment number 12.

    Tim - great stuff again... as others have said... and i couldn't agree more... please walk into Mihir's office and ask for a payrise... and then teach him how to write an article about football that someone can actually read without losing the will to live...

    anyway... relaistically how long has Tevez got in the Argentina side? 7 goals in 42 games is not great for a "world class" centre forward playing in a top side... what are the agentinian press and public saying... no doubt if he was English they would be calling for his head (like when Shearer went 12 games without scoring before Euro 96 and everybody wanted Fowler in the team)... for what it is worth I love Tevez.. I watch United quite a bit and really rate him (although his finishing is arguably a bit dodgy)... what is he doing wrong? will he be given time

  • Comment number 13.

    I look forward to your blog every week Tim. It's refreshing to read an article by someone who has such a depth of knowledge about his subject, and who writes about a variety of different topics, rather than just sticking to a comfort zone of Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, like a certain Chief Football Writer.

    Keep up the good work Tim.

  • Comment number 14.

    Nice article as always, but this one seems alittle generalised. Usually your articles focus on one subject (thats in the title), but in this article possebon is only mentioned once or twice.

    Wasnt fabio the leading goalscorer at the U17 championships? or was that the world cup? I think with the marauding Evra (best left back in England and probably Europe) they have a very good tutor who can teach them to defend and to attack. I've heard great things about Rafael and he seems like a player who can potentially be in our 1st team in years to come.

    As for Possebon, Pogatetz's tackle was clumsy at best. I know he was banned for a long period before he joined Boro for causing a serious injury to a player so it was only a matter of time before something similar happened again, although im glad Possebon's injury isnt as bad as first feared. Like the twins, i think Possebon will learn a great deal from the maestro Scholes and this could well propel him to a slot in the 1st team alongside Ando when Scholes retires.

    Also, what does the Brazilian public feel about Robinho's move from Real to Man City? You say that the Brazilian public feel their stars are nothing more than mercenaries reaching for the big money in Europe, so i guess Robinho hasn't really done much to change that?

  • Comment number 15.

    Tim - great stuff again... as others have said... and i couldn't agree more... please walk into Mihir's office and ask for a payrise... and then teach him how to write an article about football that someone can actually read without losing the will to live...


    Spot on.

  • Comment number 16.

    great stuff tim.

  • Comment number 17.

    No 14 - fallsheroes - you may have a point, but the objective of this piece was to be generalised - I wanted to use the Possebon incident to get at a growing trend in the global game.
    After all, there's next to nothing that I can add specifically about Possebon - like everyone else in Brazil, I've never seen him. He's coming through the ranks abroad - and it was this process that I wanted to address.
    The recent overtures that Inter Milan have made to Diego Maradona - I suspect that they are part of this same trend. Inter are big on Argentines - the association with the bigggest name in Argentine football is probably supposed to work as a magnet to attract his teenage compatriots.

  • Comment number 18.

    Watch out for "Sidnei" the 19 year old Brazilian centreback from Benfica !!!
    I have seen him play a few times now, and he has impressed me.
    Along with "Luisao" maybe Benfica will have the first choice Brazilian centrebacks for the next world cup.

    What do you think ?

  • Comment number 19.

    What happened to Carlos Alberto, the brilliant young brazilian that deserved most of the credit (yes, much more than Deco!) for Porto's 2004 Champions League win?
    The ball used to stick to his quick feet.. He seems to have disappeared, and is nowhere near the Brazil team...?

  • Comment number 20.

    18. Beto 1960-

    Sidnei, coincidentally is also from the same club as Possebon, Internacional.

    From my understanding though, Luisao isn't in the best of form at the moment.

    14. fallsheroes-
    The Brazilian public are always fustraited when they see young stars who are not perhaps quite ready for a big move leave the country, I think they just accept it now and move on.

    Man City certainly seem to have caught the imagination of the Brazilian media though. The popular website Globo was last night showing updates of the Wigan v Man City match in the same part of the site which follows the Brazilian Championship scores.

  • Comment number 21.

    19. chriscorlett-
    Sorry to post here again but I can tell you about Carlos Alberto.

    He left Porto in 2005 to join Corinthians whom he was with for two years. Since then he has moved clubs quite frequently.

    After Corinthians he signed for Fluminense before earning another move to Europe last year with Werder Bremen in Germany. At the start of this year he briefly joined Sao Paulo until joining Botafogo.

    He played and was substituted in yesterday's one all draw with one of his former clubs, Fluminese.

  • Comment number 22.

    Tim, thats for my weekly south american update! I was just wondering if there are many/any europeans playing over in south america at the moment? As much as i love seeing the more technical south american players over here, i can't help but feel that they should at least get established at their home clubs first and also so the club benefites from a bit more money. The rich european clubs are killing the national game!

  • Comment number 23.

    re: #22

    The best eurpoean playing in Brazil must be Dejan Ptekovic. He's been a star for a number of teams, Fluminense esp, but is in relegation struggler this time with Atletico Mineiro.

    In Argentina, the only European I have seen is Iván Moreno y Fabianesi, a good Spanish (ex Spanish now) player as well.

    There is also a Spanish coach in Argentina, Lanus' (Apertura 2007 champions), Ramón Cabrero- he's an old man but born in Spain.

    There must be others too though but the wages and uncertainty must be a factor in the low numbers.

  • Comment number 24.

    I have been enjoying your blog for some time now Tim, it is by some considerable distance the most interesting sports column I have come across on any of the main news outlet websites.

    It would be wonderful if we could have a similar perspective on European football - real reflection without the ridiculous and tiresome hype we have to put up with. Football is really a completely different, and much more fascinating phenomenon without it.

    What I like about it is that rather than fleshing out headlines you produce informative, thoughtful pieces about aspects to the game that we wouldn't hear about otherwise. Very clever to pick out and respond to readers' questions at the same time as well.

  • Comment number 25.

    Apparently Arsenal are lining up a swoop for Brazilian sensation Dentinho at Corinthians. I have heard a lot of good things about him and he is to become the next striking star from Brazil. He was close to signing a year ago and I would just like to know your opinion on him.

    Also Denilson on Arsenal; why weren't he picked for the Olympics at least?

  • Comment number 26.

    RE: Denilson for Brz. Given Brazil's focus on the olympics and Denilson's lack of playing time last season and a relatively low reputation in Brazil, I do not see why he would have been picked. Tim can always correct me here of course.

    Tim, can I ask again if you are friends with John Cotteril and Bira Brasil of GootBrazil TV team? You must have met them at the Maracana at some stage, maybe you could do a guest appearance on a live game? That would be cool

  • Comment number 27.

    Tim, you do for Latin American football what the great James Richardson did for Serie A with Gazzetta Football Italia. For my money, you're possibly the best sports journalist the BBC have on the website.

  • Comment number 28.

    26 - John Cotteril and Bira Brazil? Sorry, never heard of them. If they have a show and want to invite me on, they know where to find me.

    Denilson? To be honest I was surprised he wasn't named in the squad last week. Central midfield is where Brazil are really struggling, they know him, they've called him up before and I would have thought he was worth having a look at again. But as 1970 great Gerson wrote in his column on Snday, what can you make of a criteria where Ronaldinho is left out and Gilberto Silva stays in?

  • Comment number 29.

    Possebon is going to be a good player for United.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Tim
    Really interesting stories about the world of South American football and its players.
    I'm currently living in Buenos Aires and watch a lot of the games here,yesterday I went to watch the River Plate-Racing Club game 3-3 very entertaining but both sides terrible in defence.Buoanotte came on for the second half and River were a different side,he is a very good player great balance and a cracking left foot.For me though I do not think he is ready for the premier league yet he is a bit to small in my eyes.What do you think?What do you also think of some of the younger players coming through at Boca?Noir looks good to me.What do you think about Riquelme and his position in the national side,a lot of people I speak to think that he should be dropped.

    Keep the great stories coming

  • Comment number 31.

    Hey tim
    I like your articles. I am curious to know one thing. When we talk about south american football we always think about the attacking players because the are the best in the world. why is that south american teams are failing to produce worldclass defenders and defensive midfielders, There isn't one good prospect around . denilson is not good and i was expecting banega to be good but when i watch the game the other night he doesn't look solid. Raphael was good but he is too attacking and feel he needs to improve his defence if he wants to play the big games .I personally feel that the next world cup will be won by an european team because teams like spain ,italy are more complete.

  • Comment number 32.

    Tim aka El Legindino or Vikipedia is awesome. I am a regular contributor toRadio 5 live Up all Night World Football Phone in on Saturday morning 2.30-4.00 AM. Set your alarm ask him in person,I have stumped him,when I asked him about Aldershot Town's Venezuelan reserve goalie Mikhel Jaimez-Ruiz to be fair he did his homework and had a answer following week.It shows you the true globilisation of football that a Non -league team[we are now CC league 2] can have South American and Carribbean players.My other team Arsenal are playing Porto Tuesday and worringly they have a Brazilian forward named 'Hulk' he takes an awesome free kick.World Football Phone in has a terrfic facebook site take a look programme is podcasted,

  • Comment number 33.

    Top work again phil,

    What do you think of the young boy Pablo Piatti at Almeria? Admittedly, initially I just brushed him off as another young argie who has more hype than actual skill, however watching him against Valencia, he was extremely promising, constantly beating the backline. How do you rate his chances of succeeding and within the next 2 years breaking into the argentina first team squad?

    and on the tevez subject, I feel that his sheer work rate and energy will surely see him as a regular as although the likes of messi,riquelme and kun aguero have the finesse and skill, Carlos gives them the balance and i'd be amazed if he is shunned by Basile.

    One last question, when will Guilherme (cruzeiro) conquer europe?

  • Comment number 34.

    Could you please remind me of the rules on players from outside the EC playing in EC countries' football leagues? Or was this only in England?

    There was a time when non-EC players had to have played three quarters (or was it half?) of the internationals played by their national side in the previous year (or was it two years?).

    So how is Jo able to even get a work permit at Manchester City? Have the rules now changed?


  • Comment number 35.

    Re: The EU Work Permit rules in Britain: I seem to remember some sort of 'exceptional circumstances' rule. Basically that if the club can argue that the player has fantastic potential to be a future regular at International level then they can be cut some slack.

    Not so sure if that'd apply to someone of Jo's age, but perhaps the twins at Manchester United.

    As always, keep up the good work, Tim.

  • Comment number 36.

    .Bruno Bontfim aka Dentinho from Corinthians is 19 turned down a lucrative move to Saudi Arabia. Greek side Olympioacas are suppose to be interested as well as my beloved Arsenal. Playing Porto in Champions League Tuesday worringly Porto have a Brazilian striker nicknamed 'Hulk' takes an awesome free kick.Defending set pieces not good as another Brazilian Giovanni showed Saturday evening.

  • Comment number 37.

    Re: 24
    "It would be wonderful if we could have a similar perspective on European football - real reflection without the ridiculous and tiresome hype we have to put up with."

    Gabriel Marcotti is your man.

  • Comment number 38.

    5. At 12:37pm on 29 Sep 2008, freddawlanen wrote:
    Can you tell me how all these teenage South Americans manage to get work permits to play in England , yet when people we've actually heard of try, if they haven't quite got the required number of international caps are told 'no chance'.
    Or do the rules only apply to smaller clubs?


    A lot of players have a 2nd nationality. Zarate for example wouldn't need to apply for a work permit as he has dual Argentinian/Italian nationality

  • Comment number 39.

    with regards to ronaldomilesahead comments about south american defenders and defensive midfielders.
    are you for real?

    i cant think of many countries who have produced better defenders and defensive midfielders than argentina, ayala, samuel, mascherano, cambiasso, sorin spring to mind, im sure i could go on but i have to do some work unfortunately.

  • Comment number 40.

    If Fifa/Uefa really want to block this then surely they just change the rules so that to be a homegrown player you have to spend 3 years at a club between 15 and 20 - thus any poached at 18 from South America or wherever will no longer have time enough to qualify as homegrown?

  • Comment number 41.

    another great blog tim, don't stop!

    Do you have an opinion of the young Sao Paulo defender 'Aislan' that Liverpool have been linked with? He hasen't played much for them, might he be another Paletta?


  • Comment number 42.

    The only thing commendable about Tim Vickery´s efforts at blogging is the inordinate number of stooges who saturate the top of the comments underneath. Any criticism is buried down the bottom thanks to the massive rush positive propoganda published at the top shortly after publication. To say that he is the only column worth reading on BBC Football online is ridiculous. Tim is a very poor columnist and probably cant believe his fortune at being afforded such a hugely popular platform. It is a damning indictment of BBC online if Tim is rated so highly surely?

  • Comment number 43.

    And to observe that his lead story here is based around a second rate Manchester United Carling Cup player says it all. Of course nobody has heard of Rodrigo Possebon, just like nobody has heard of many Man Utd fringe players who only get as far as the Carling Cup side. If the "editors" at BBC online knew the first thing about football they might raise this point with Vickery, but unfortunately their lack of knowledge and authority on the matter leads to nonsense articles like this being published. In truth, this is blog no better than an average standard reply by one of the many BBC readers.

  • Comment number 44.

    Well, I hate to be added to your list of stooges, OddsGuru, but Tim really is a great columnist, and his prodigious output for the BBC, World Soccer et al testifies to this.

    Did you not notice he is explicitly exploring the appearance of South Americans at major European clubs who have never even been seen in their homeland? Nobody has heard of Rodrigo Possebon, not because he is "second-rate" but because he has played about 3 games for United - he actually looks pretty decent (and I'm an Evertonian with no need to say that). Nevertheless, this appropriation of young foreign talent is surely worthy of a column?

    Of course, OddsGuru is probably Mihir Bose incognito.

  • Comment number 45.

    Excellent piece Tim. Just wondering whether you think this will ultimately have a devastating impact upon the national leagues of countries like Argentina and Brazil as their talent is taken abroad at a younger and younger age?

    While I can see why big clubs want academies with the best talent from around the world, I do fear that they may be destroying the careers of talented players who need the extra time to develop within their own footballing culture. Surely the better solution is to promote more links between the richer European clubs and eg South American clubs so that talent and young men are allowed to mature in their native lands?

    One can't expect these young men to make a decision to stay at home when the rewards are so lucrative should they move abroad and are among the lucky few who make it.

  • Comment number 46.

    Those that knock this blog can go back to Bhose and co, don't waste your time here.

    My thoughts on the poaching is that not only are players mentally unready, they miss out potentially better coaching of the technique that gives them an identity of a native player.

    Another is that, one of the great motivations for a good South American player is at the twilight of their career to return to the hometown club that raised them and play in fornt of those adoring fans again. Kun Aguero always states his love for Independiente, and there are countless such examples

    Anyone who has seen a game in Argentina or many other clubs in South America (Gremio is great example), will agree that the atmosphere at a big game is unrivalled.

    I recall a game at el cilindero (Racing Club's ground) a few years back where there were so many River fans, all of whom where jumping up and down that the referee had to pause the game because the stand was shaking!

    What happens if these poached players fail, or are somewhat successful but forgotten in the native country. They will never have a close tie with a particular native club and will miss that spiritual connection to a home club that is so important. that would be a great shame.

  • Comment number 47.

    Rodrigo Poosebon has an Italian passport so does not need a work permit. A few months Tim Vickery mentioned there was a problem at Itlaian Consulate regarding passports.Argentina especially had a lot of Spanish ans Italian immigrants claim grandparent heritage.No problem with work permit

  • Comment number 48.

    OddsGuru does seem to have his head screwed on the wrong way....he missed the main purpose of the article and criticised a young player that by the end of the yr ppl could be raving about! he has ability, graft and the right attitude.
    more to the point however most of the comments on the blog relate to compliments on the correct spelling and punctuation!this man takes time with his words and ppl appreciate it, whilst there are clearly many other good articles to read on BBC online this man doesnt really explain his rationale apart from blaming ppl for commenting favourably, not actually listing his petty disagreements. Read the whole article Guru not the title, you might actually learn something

  • Comment number 49.

    You're right, these kids are seriously vulnerable; but there's few people in the world of footie better at looking after young talent than Fergie.

  • Comment number 50.

    I think you need to do a little more research Tim, maybe even call a club or two...the main reason Fabio isn't 'adapting' as quickly as his brother is due to him having a disclocated shoulder at the fact all you had to do was watch the Champions League game this week when it was mentioned in the commentary...


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