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Can Ganso make his mark?

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Tim Vickery | 10:43 UK time, Monday, 3 January 2011

One of the many wonderful things about covering South American football is the opportunity to watch young talent bloom. Yet too often that process is interrupted prematurely, the player sold off to Europe at a dangerously early stage in his career.

That is what has happened to Marcos Rojo, who made such an impact in the second half of 2010 as Estudiantes won the Argentine championship. Could this be the attacking left-back that his country have been looking for?

I was hoping to draw some conclusions from the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League, which kicks off in a few weeks. Yet Rojo will not be participating following his sale to Spartak Moscow.

Further north there is Fernando Uribe, the interesting centre forward in the Once Caldas side that has just won the Colombian title under former Manchester City assistant coach Juan Carlos Osorio.

Uribe finishes well and is highly proficient at timing his runs to get behind the opposing defence. The rest of his game needs work. Could he show signs of development in this year's Libertadores? It seems not, as he looks set to join Chievo in Italy.

European football taketh but European football can also giveth back. Some of those who struggle after moving too early come back across the Atlantic to regain momentum.

A fascinating example looks like being Louis Angelo Pena, the most talented of the Venezuelan squad who played in the 2009 World Youth Cup. He looks set to join Caracas after failing to get much of a look in with Braga in Portugal.

Pena, an attacking midfielder, is by no means the only South American playmaker to find it hard to make the step up - which brings us to the player whose progress will be watched most closely in 2011, Paulo Henrique Ganso of Santos and Brazil.

A tall, elegant, left-footed number 10, Ganso is considered an automatic choice for Brazil after only one game for the national side. Some have talked of him as the best in the world in his position - which I find a bit worrying.

ganso595.jpgGanso - a left-footed Zidane? Photo: Getty Images

No doubt about it, the talent is there. This is a player who is strong in possession, with the vision to see the killer pass and the technique to play it. His team-mate, the similarly heralded Neymar, talks of Ganso as a left-footed Zidane - a lovely thought for football fans everywhere. But some context is needed before we start getting too carried away.

There is the view that contemporary Brazilian football offers rich pickings for playmakers. Yet the country has struggled recently to produce attacking midfielders whose game is collective, who dictate the rhythm and bring team-mates into play with inspired passing.

Meanwhile, a number of imports have caught the eye in recent years.

In the 2009 Brazilian Championship, Dejan Petkovic, a 37-year-old Serbian playmaker, was the decisive player. At his peak, he did not make much of an impact on the major European leagues but his intelligence and quality were key as Flamengo won the title.

Last year, it was a similar story with the Argentine Dario Conca at Fluminense, a little playmaker who had failed in his native land before starring in Chile and now Brazil. Another Argentine playmaker, Walter Montillo, has a similar biography to Conca and had a splendid campaign with Cruzeiro.

These success stories can hardly be put down to coincidence. Instead, it would seem that the following conditions apply:

With the defensive lines operating deep, the playmaker has time to pick his pass, the criteria applied by Brazilian referees gives him plenty of protection and he is surrounded by interesting options. For example, he can slip a ball through to the wonderfully athletic attacking full-backs that are a speciality of the Brazilian game.

My cause for concern, then, comes from the fact that, so far, the pedestal on which Ganso is being placed is built of fairly flimsy material. He looked a fine prospect in the 2009 Brazilian Championship, though he found it hard to impose himself on a consistent basis in that year's World Youth Cup. His reputation, then, currently rests on his form in the first few months of 2010, when Santos won two titles.

Indeed, he was outstanding - but in weak competitions. Of all Brazil's 27 state championships, the Sao Paulo one is the best. But that does not make it very good. A quiet consensus is growing in the Brazilian game that all these competitions do is clutter up the calendar unnecessarily. And the Brazilian Cup is essentially a consolation prize for clubs who have not qualified for the Libertadores.

Last year's National Championship was when Ganso could have made the transition from promise to reality - as happened with Neymar. But a serous knee injury put him out of action. He returns this year to find that the tests will be much stiffer.

First, there is the Libertadores, where, if the technical level is not always great, he will be set new tactical puzzles and the marking will be more robust. Then, in July, comes the Copa America, his first senior competition with the national side.

I am optimistic that Paulo Henrique Ganso can meet these challenges. But as he gets ready for them and, in due time, for the move to Europe, I hope he is mentally prepared for the fact that the bar is going to rise.

denilson595.jpgDenilson had the world at his feet but failed to deliver. Photo: Getty Images

This has not always been the case with young Brazilian talent that has been praised too much too early - and I fear that in the past I have added some grains of sand to unwisely constructed pedestals.

The most glaring case is that of Denilson, the left winger who became the world's most expensive player when he joined Betis in 1998. I was carried away with his power and acceleration, tight dribbling skills and ability to score. But the player was clearly unprepared for the degree of difficulty that he was going to face, was blown off course and never came close to fulfilling his potential.

Denilson was the better dribbler, so it would be wonderful if Ganso can pass his way out of the possible trap of premature praise.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for nest week.

From last week's postbag:

Q) As a Liverpool fan, I have been taken aback at the evolution of Lucas in our midfield over the last 18 months, leading me to believe he was our best player in a dismal previous season and is leading the way again this term.

With Manchester United's Anderson appearing to be starting a similar renaissance, do you think there is a possibility of the two linking up in Brazil's midfield in the future? Both have excellent distribution skills when at their best and, in the English and European games especially, have dramatically reduced the number of fouls they have given away and seem to be revelling in the roles they are given.
Tom Roberts

A) I wrote about Lucas in a recent answer - he is booked in as Brazil's holding midfielder, which represents a change of role from the one he fulfilled when he previously worked with national team coach Mano Menezes at Gremio.

Anderson has gone through an even more radical transformation since he and Menezes were together at Gremio, when he was a teenage flyer, an attacking midfielder with minimal defensive responsibilities. Menezes knows him, and knows that he has changed - and it could be that the change makes him interesting to a coach who is trying to ensure that Brazil play more football through the midfield.

With Ganso back, I imagine Menezes going for a 4-2-3-1 - Pato up front, Ganso in between Robinho and Neymar, and a midfield pairing currently of Lucas and Ramires. A consistently on form Anderson could be a rival for Ramires - it would need a slight adjustment because the Chelsea man favours the right and Anderson is left-footed. But it is feasible, so it is up to Anderson to make up for lost time and push his claim.


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Wilshere or Ganso?

  • Comment number 2.


  • Comment number 3.

    Another great blog Tim. Nice to see the mention of Denilson there, I remember that move and the excitement I had for it as he was a player that admired very much after seeing him at France 98. It was a disappointing direction his career took.

  • Comment number 4.

    Fascinating stuff as always Tim. Do you know of a good English language website which details news and info on all these players and includes results and tables for all Brazil's 27 state championships?

    Ganso doesn't sound the typical Brazilian no.10...are the 'big' European clubs on his trail or will he be joining the exodus to the Russian league?

  • Comment number 5.

    U-20 South American Championships starting next week, Neymar and Coutinho are included but who else do you expect to shine Tim?

  • Comment number 6.

    no Wilshere and no Ganso. 2011's Zidane is NASRI who else?

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Tim...

    The "quiet consensus" you refer to, is the volume likely to increase?

    It's often mystified me as to why South American - Brasil particularly - football, in terms of fixtures, is just so...uh...higgledy-piggledy (this is a recognised FIFA term)?

    Every time a new Football Manager comes out, I steam in, set up a new game with my beloved Fluzão and thirty games later am left thinking "uh, what competition's this? Why a new 'reset' League table? How many Cups do I need?" or "Why haven't I got a game for a month? Who am I?"

    So I knock it on the head and start a game in Europe somewhere...

    Is it as frustrating being a real-life fan in Brasil?

  • Comment number 8.

    Top blog Tim.

    Was wondering why so many Brazilians end up heading to Russia as an initial base in Europe. Obviously the clubs there have good links and scouts in Brazil but given how cold it is there it is strange they end up there rather than proving them selves perhaps at a lesser club in Spain, Portugal, or Italy.

    I mean its colder there than in England yet you constantly hear the weather putting off many Brazilians from settling here? Is it more to do with the league or the clubs willing to take a risk on them?

  • Comment number 9.

    I wonder if the South American clubs would want to bother developing a player if they can just off load him for several million pounds to a European club?

  • Comment number 10.

    It's a shame these players get snapped up too early, but it's inevitable. All the European managers see the rising talent, think it'd make a great addition to their squad and splash their cash before someone else beats them to the signature. Besides, the longer they wait, the more expensive the player will become if their development continues.

    What is really needed is an understanding of the differences between South American and European football on the European end, with systems in place throughout the European clubs active across the Atlantic to ease the transition for their new signings.

    Interesting point about Lucas, too. I still struggle to think of him highly, as a hangover from his first year or two at Liverpool when he was absolutely worthless. I don't think he has what it takes to be part of a great Brazilian side. I just can't see it.

  • Comment number 11.

    There is always a next big thing in the south american leagues, not many make much impact in europe when they leave late teens early 20's. How do the european clubs get round the rules to bring in talent at a younger age? Pato? Messi? Aguero?

  • Comment number 12.

    How does he compare with ex Brazilian u20 captain Giuliano? Whilst from the little I've seen, Ganso has the skills in abundance, Giuliano seems to be more solid in his overall game.

  • Comment number 13.

    Love your profile picture Tim. are you luxuriating on a chaise longue?

  • Comment number 14.

    A really good read and a lot of food for thought!

  • Comment number 15.

    Fantastic. I've been intrigued about this Ganso fella since watching that USA v Brazil friendly. He looked like a cross between a tall Luka Modric and Kaka from the little I've seen of him. Nice to read the thoughts of someone who keeps a much closer eye on South American football.

  • Comment number 16.

    To jstan's question about why so many Brazilians move to Russian clubs - I assume that it's probably to do with immigration stuff like work permits or the equivalent. Here I believe it's something like the applicant club has to show that a non-EU player is a recognised international; perhaps the Russians are a bit less strict.

  • Comment number 17.

    The big european clubs and the english clubs come in with their big pay checks and the inferior clubs in brazil and south america are left with little choice as they cannot refuse the masses of cash which are handed 2 them, that linked with the young players desire to play in europe and further develop their skills makes the move becomes more and more imminent, there is also a great desire from the fans 2 hav the latest new "talent" at their club. I the player must move i suggest that he goes 2 a club that is not a massive club like lazio or villareal and learn their trade their and then move onto the big clubs. Also, since when was lucas good enuf 2 start 4 brazil, seriously, were liverpool a joy 2 watch last season, no so him being their best player (which is highly debateable) is not sum extraordinary feat, so no way is he good enuf or has the ability 2 play 4 brazil.

  • Comment number 18.

    Great blog Tim,

    Further cementing the points you have briefly raised on world football phone-in. I would like to know why Scottish clubs don't look to take players for south America offering them a stepping stone to the epl? Naturally climate and culture would be a stumbling block but not insurmountable one would think for the player who does not yet have the stock to move straight to a epl club.

  • Comment number 19.

    Excellent questions @ 8 and 11. I wonder if Tim can shed some light on this?
    Usual high standard intelligently thought out blog Tim. My admiration for Ganso is huge; a tremendously talented young man who is remarkably mature for his age, as borne out by his willingness to shoulder responsibility on and off the pitch. Precisely because of this, I fear terribly for him this year. His injury was extremely serious and although he is now 5 months into his 7 month recovery, his very ability will tend to make him a target for some harsh treatment when he comes back, just in time for the Libertadores. Injury prevented Ronaldo from making the most of his career and it would be a tragedy for this to be repeated in such a promising new talent.
    Btw, what do you think of Elano's return to Santos? Imo he was always under-rated, with colleagues Diego and Robinho taking most of the accolades, but for me he was the workhorse of that great side, playing in a variety of positions and popping up to score vital goals. Since then, both at Shaktar and Man. City, he has given glimpses of that great talent without being able to firmly establish himself. But he was one of Brazil's best at the WC in SA and his absence against Holland may have been the difference in not making the semis.

  • Comment number 20.

    Great blog, Tim ;)

    Having watched Ganso play in the two competitions you mentioned, I believe that he is indeed a great prospect, and frankly, I'm more worried about the spotlight given to Neymar than to Ganso.

    Whilst Neymar surely has all the attacking skills of the likes of Denilson and Robinho, combined with the eye for goal of Pato, his behaviour has revelaed many flaws which I believe only managers such as Fergunson, Wenger or Van Gaal would be able to erradicate. His on-field behaviour has been, last year, absolutely ridiculous - including fighting both his coach and captain on the field, and being the key for Dorival Junior's sacking as Santos's manager.

    Meanwhile, although back in the medical room, Ganso is a more quiet character. Whilst he receives a lot of media attention - and deservedly so - he seems more prepared to face the big stage than Neymar is.

    The pairing of Neymar/Ganso reminds me much of Robinho/Diego when they sprung up at Santos at the turn of the century. Both were young players, with a lot of potential. And worringly, both ended up not achieving the success everyone in Brazil thought they would. I hope things will be different with Ganso, though.

  • Comment number 21.

    Rojo should never have transferred to a Russian club. Hardly going to suit him. Many SA players seem to take the big move rather than head to Portugal/Spain and get sued to Europe the easy way.

  • Comment number 22.


  • Comment number 23.

    Wasn't Zidane left footed then ?

    Ive got visions of his left footed volley from a Roberto Carlos cross in the CL final 2002 in my mind when I ask this.

  • Comment number 24.

    Tim, in regards to your reply to Tom Roberts' question I notice you suggested the team would be Pato ahead of a line of Neymar, Robinho and Ganso, then Lucas and Ramires in midfield with Anderson potentially coming in. Just a query, is there no room for Hernanes who has been absolutely magnificent this season at Lazio? I understand he's maybe a bit too attacking to slot into there central 2 but he really has been a revelation. Does it seem the more youthful backline of Alves, Luiz, Thiago Silva and Bastos will be a regular contingent from now on also? I think there's a pretty strong team in the making here...

  • Comment number 25.

    Excellent blog Tim

  • Comment number 26.

    Santos have, once again, some of the best attacking prospects in the game.

    I think Ganso is incredible, but Neymar seems to rely very much on the space he is provided ... which is strange considering Ganso is the midfielder! I saw Ganso being triple-marked, and coping relatively well.

  • Comment number 27.

    Ganso does indeed catch the eye and looks a real good prospect. Though I am not an expert, the little I have seen of him makes me think that he needs to improve his finishing to really make an impact in Europe.
    As to why young South American players have tended to find themselves in Russia in recent years, look no further than artificially high wages, their agents seeking to cash in, less stringent visa requirments and the opportunity for Champions League/Europa Cup football. I wouldn't fancy the cold though!
    As for Lucas - decent enough player but way below the standard you would expect from a Brazil starting XI of even the starting XI of a decent Liverpool side. The acid test in international football at the moment is simple: would he be good enough to get into the Spanish team? Lucas? No!

  • Comment number 28.

    All very interesting but with one problem.. We've heard it all before!

    There is always a 'new Zidane' and they never make it because of this stupid lableing..

    If the media just stop throwing these kids into the spotlight, more might actually make it!

  • Comment number 29.

    Great Blog tim, it evoke me good times...


  • Comment number 30.

    Cam't believe Lucas plays for Brazil - he must be one of the worst Brazilian ever to play football. The man can't pass, tackle or shot!!! With him in the team Brazil has no chance!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    28 - your last line is one of the main points of the piece.

    On South Americans going to Russia (or Ukraine, for that matter) - professional footballers will follow the money, and with the financial problems of western europe, it's clubs from Russia and Ukraine who are prepared to take the gamble.

  • Comment number 32.

    IMHO Adel Taarabt is the new Zidane and the player to watch in 2011

  • Comment number 33.

    26 - Neymar had an excellent Brazilian Championship without Ganso in the side.

    20 - Neymar as the problem boy - perhaps a bit too simplistic. Firstly, Neymar is younger, and is really growing up in public. He's making mistakes - but i think i have to agree with his agent when he says that Neymar is not making the same mistake twice.

    Also, on the disciplinary problem, when Neymar threw the toys out of the pram when not allowed to take a penalty - an incident which ended with Santos sacking the coach....

    I think the seeds for this were sown by Ganso. It was the second leg of the final of the Sao Paulo state championship, towards the end with Santos inn front. Ganso was substituted - but refused to leave the field. He was greatly praised for this action, showed strength of character, etc.
    Fair enough - but in the decision making process he had also put himself above the coach - a very dangerous precedent. Perhaps it is not so surprising that Neymar thought that he had the same privilege when Santos were awarded a penalty v Atletico-GO.

  • Comment number 34.

    Too much is expected of young players.

    Not everyone is going to fufill their potential before they are 20 like some players do.

    It used to be a case where Professional football clubs would keep younger plays til they were around 20 and if they weren't in the first team by then they'd be released.

    But when you take players lik Drogba for example, who wasn't even a professional til he was 25 people can see how ridiculous those notions are.

    Players NEED to be given time to develop and there is no set timeframe for when that player will be developed.

    Its impossible to achieve, but there needs to be more regulation about the movement of players under the age of 20 to different countries, and needs to be done on an individual basis, some players can benefit greatly from it, some of them its just going to ruin their carears.

  • Comment number 35.

    Tim can you go one blog without mentioning Lucas, Fabio/Rafael, Anderson and/or Denilson (Neves)? The whole point is to steer away from the predictable dirge that is football in England. Please stop pandering to the Premier League crowd, you are better than that.

    @18 - Scotland, incredibly is still part of the UK and thus adheres to the British Home Office regulations regarding work-permits. Players good enough to receive a WP or have a second nationality for playing in the UK, won't play in Scotland. Nothing against Scottish football in particular just the fact that a side like Wigan could equally match what Hearts or Aberdeen would offer a player.

  • Comment number 36.

    It doesn't take that long watching a player to identify that certain x factor that separates him from other mortal players. An x factor that makes a player "out of this world" and truly phenomenal as opposed to just very good.

    Ronaldo had it. Rivaldo had it. Ronaldinho had it.

    Kaka never had it. Robinho never had it. Denilson definitely never had it.

    Ganso appears to have it. Neymar, not sure yet, so probably not.

  • Comment number 37.

    I hope Ganso does well if and when he comes to Europe to play his football. I'm disappointed with the little I've seen of Sandro at Spurs, who can't seem to get near the first team or even the bench at the moment.

  • Comment number 38.

    "All very interesting but with one problem.. We've heard it all before!"

    A lot of this is word of mouth kind of hype which goes around a lot in this country.. people talking up south american talent on wikipedia stats and stuff without ever really consuming any of the limited exposure to South American football that we have.

    With Tim however, this is the closest we get to a true insight of the footballing climate in that part of the world in terms of the structural, economic, cultural and historical context. Used to listen to Tim on BBC radio a lot around 10 years ago and by watching Argentine football regularly on C5 at 3 in the morning, I get this blog big time and would say that Vickery is comfortably the most prominent chronicler of South American football in the English speaking world today. Great work Tim, cheers!

  • Comment number 39.

    @ #23 Tanglefoot Twitch

    Nah, Zidane was naturally right footed but that goal you mentioned is a glorious illustration of his faultless technique. As two-footed as the great Phil Neville!

  • Comment number 40.

    Tim, I've been thinking about what you say about European clubs and their ability to develop these young South American players. I agree with what you say that players need to adapt into first team players before taking on Europe
    But why is it that this has proven to be the case? Surely the quality of the coaching in Europe ought to be able to help these players realise their potential? On a basic level shouldn't breaking into the first team in Brazil be the same as breaking into the first team at a lower level European club like Braga? Do you think perhaps this is a weakness of European coaches that needs to be addressed? And just to add a bit of a counterargument, what's your take on Fabio and Rafael at Manchester United, bought very young and in the process of being coached into quality players by a top European club?

  • Comment number 41.

    36 - I second your observation on Kaka. I watched him a few times in Milan and he is a very good player. However, his energy, in a league with technical brilliance but no pace, really flattered him. I really like Pato but he relies heavily on decent service and doesn't seem to be able to bully his way to creating his own chances out of nothing.

    I think the problem with South Americans coming to Europe at a very young age is wider than football. Not many people have the strength and support around them to deal with the fame, money and expectation at such a young age without going off the rails. There are many young kids in the music world who have massive early sucess but never really go on to fulfil their potential and I think the same is true of football players.

    Equally, there have been endless young English players who seemingly have the future world at their feet but never really make it. Jody Morris is the first name off the top of my head but there are many many others.

  • Comment number 42.

    41 - as a Manchester United fan, the guy absolutely took us apart in the CL semi final second leg in 2007, he definitely had 'it' that night!

  • Comment number 43.

    How good a team does santos have at the moment. They have neymar, ganso, zezinho and alan patrick. Would you rate this team as highly as the 2002 team of diego, elano, robinho and alex?

  • Comment number 44.

    Tim, this question (about your article) is based on what you wrote regarding the Brazilian league... I tend to agree that the Brazilian League is not a true barometer for NT inclusion based on the productivity levels shown by has-been players like Petkovic & even one of my favorite players Diego Souza... my question is, can any league in South America warrant that expectation? Sebastian Veron looked like he was going to have a decent World Cup but then Maradona pulled the plug on that idea during the World Cup. I like a lot of the Brazilian league goalkeepers, especially the guy from Cruziero, but now you got me thinking... maybe it's better if Brazil went with Gomes for full internationals since the EPL gives players better competition, well at least more than the Brazilian league does.

    I don't know... I'm also tempted to include Chile's World Cup campaign, since they included a fair share of players from the domestic league, towards the end, when they lost out to Brazil, wouldn't you say that the domestic league players were the reason why they lost?

    I know Uruguay employed only one player from it's domestic league (Arevalo-Rios)in the starting eleven but have no clue about Paraguay (how many domestic players to "international players") --- I think Brazil's league while exciting (especially some derbies)is not the proper training ground for tomorrow's NT superstars.

  • Comment number 45.

    42- I agree Kaka at Milan was awesome, one of the best playmakers in the last 10-15 years. Its a shame that he has had so many injury troubles in the last couple of years. Hopefully Mourinho can get the best out of Kaka again now that he has recovered.

  • Comment number 46.

    Im a fan of the talent Ganso APPEARS to have, but to say hes the best in the world in his position is an absolute joke! The Brazilian press has over hyped him I think. Although he appears to have a similar style to Zidane's, he has so so much to prove. The first thing he needs to do is actually make an impact in Brazil's Serie A league, which he has still yet to do! At the moment, Conca and Montillo are clearly the best two players in midfielders in the Brazilian Leaguse. Ganso only impressed during the Paulista Championship (just teams from the state of Sao Paulo playing against each other)which includes many weak teams. He didn't even do that much during his cap for Brazil against Iran! and I think its fair to say Iran are clearly minnows in World Football. Saying that, I hope Ganso does well, and I think it's important he stays with Santos for at least the whole of the 2011 season.

  • Comment number 47.

    Tim, top stuff again - and long may it continue.

    I have to say, I don't quite get why Ramires should get in the Brazil starting line-up. I saw him a few times for Brazil and Benfica before he went to Chelsea, and couldn't for the life of me believe that the Blues were, at the time, prepared to table a massive bid of £18m-odd. His distribution leaves a lot to be desired, and, especially since his move to England, he's often been overrun by the stronger, more athletic opposition midfielders. Surely there has to be a better alternative; perhaps someone more attack-minded could fit in alongside Lucas.

  • Comment number 48.

    Football nowadays is big business. European football in particular attracts massive talent and provide highly entertaining football. There is no doubt that the best football right now is in Europe. The recent victories by Spain and Inter Milan attests to that fact. I wouldn't be surprised if Ganso joined one of the elite European clubs, if he wants to drive a Ferrari, for instance. As a staunch Manchester United fan,I would be happy to see him try his luck at OT. I hope SAF has his scouts on the young man. And I agree with one of the comments that some players with on-field attitude problems can be brought into proper alignment by the likes of SAF. So my advice to all promising talents who join big European clubs is that they be humble and patiently learn the ropes as they rise to success.

  • Comment number 49.

    Great blog Tim

    Is it just coincidence that you mentioned Lucas and Anderson after writing about Ganso?

    When I see young South American talents go to Europe, my greatest fear is that once they get in Europe “something different” is expected from them. Taking Lucas and Anderson as examples, many players are told to play differently from the way they did in South America/Brazil. Therefore much of these players’ skills are denied or become hidden.

    A brief story about a Brazilian who confronted this situation was Rivaldo. After winning the Spanish 1998/1999 League, Rivaldo was asked live on TV why he wouldn’t listen/obey his coach (Louis Van Gaal). Rivaldo’s answer was sharp and final: “If I did what he wanted I wouldn’t succeed”. Van Gaal never forgave Rivaldo for saying that. Since then Van Gaal HATES Brazilian players.

    Good luck Ganso. Don’t let your agent play with you.

  • Comment number 50.

    Nah, Zidane was naturally right footed but that goal you mentioned is a glorious illustration of his faultless technique. As two-footed as the great Phil Neville


    Bet Zidane spent more time practicing with his unnatural foot then any English player then, with possible exceptions of Hoddle and R Charlton.

  • Comment number 51.

    I'd like to second #4's request for a useful link. How important is the Brasileiro in the scheme of things for Corinthians?

  • Comment number 52.

    You wouldn't want to put him on a pedestal Tim?

    I'm assuming then someone else decided to put your blog on the football homepage under the title "Will the new Zidane shine in 2011?" lol

  • Comment number 53.

    #36 disagree on Kaka, who had it for a year or so, when he rightly won world player of the year in 2007.

  • Comment number 54.

    Tim, I find it strange that you always conclude that the Brazilian players "come across too soon" rather than the far more likely explanation that they were never quite good enough.

    The implication is that the coaching staff in Brazil is better than Europe, and that competitive matches in a sub-par division is better than the training matches and youth competitions.

    It seems to me to be more plausible that they simple were not good enough in the first place, otherwise why are the Brazilian coaches not being bought up, why are they not lots of purchase+loan deals on this great youth talents...

    The only real reason a player might devlop better if they stay longer is if like Ronaldinho they lose their hunger, the fame and money reduces their desire to improve sufficiently and they no longer progress, this is more likely than the Brazilian clubs having a magical ability to progress players better than European clubs, especially given the evidence of successful youth talent like Ronaldo and Messi. Unless perhaps you are trying to claim Messi would be an even better player if he had stayed in Argentina until he was 24?

    Perhaps Tottenham should have sent Adel Taarabt "the next zidane.." to Brazil rather than QPR, or perhaps he simple does not have what it takes to make it to the next level?

    Ganso is good, but until he actually plays against defences that have some discipline then it is unknown if he really is that good or if the defence is just not good enough.

  • Comment number 55.

    Does Menezes not play Kaka anymore? Because, potentially, it would seem to me that Ganso plays a very similar role to him in many ways, especially when you look at the formation Menezes seems to play with Brazil, I can't see Kaka fitting into any other role than the attacking midfield role. I would really like to know if Kaka is not a shoe-in to the Brazlian XI anymore! Does anyone know if this is the case?!

  • Comment number 56.

    54 -we're dealing with human beings here, so there is no such thing as a 'one size fits all approach.'

    it's not a question of sending taraabt to brazil - this misses the point entirely - it's about letting players develop in their home surroundings at a crucial stage of their lives.

    think of all the changes you go through from, say, 16 to 23. this is especially true for footballers, because at 16 they tend to lag behind their peers in terms of experience - the need to dedicate themselves to the game has shielded them from growing up - hence the oft-used expression of 'late adolescence.'

    Going through those changes in another culture is especially hard. And there is the added factor that usually in south american football they get a regular game. in europe this is frequently not the case, and i've seen so many careers go off the rails as a result.

  • Comment number 57.

    55 - one of the intriguing questions of the coming year - how does Kaka get back in? a possibility is both kaka and ganso behind the striker in a 4-3-2-1 - but that would leave no room for neymar or robinho.

    i can't see ganso, kaka plus two strikers in a 4-2-2-2 - maybe they'll have a look, but it wasn't something that worked at all in 2006.

  • Comment number 58.

    Thanks Tim. So if I understand correctly, the Brazilian team can not accommodate both Ganso and Kaka? I know Kaka has not been at his best at Madrid, but surely being dropped from the National team is the last thing he needs?! And IMO, he is still definitely good enough to warrant a starting place, plus, as you mentioned in the article, 'Ganso is considered an automatic choice for Brazil after only one game for the national side', so how do we know he can handle the pressure, or even that he is good enough long term?

  • Comment number 59.

    There will only ever be one Zidane...

  • Comment number 60.

    i'm not saying that ganso and kaka can't play together - but getting them both in is a challenge for the coach.

    on the thing of the premature praise - i wasn't too impressed with ganso's reaction when he was not included in the world cup squad. he seemed to feel that he had suffered some kind of injustice - but, as you point out, he hasn't done very much yet, and i felt that his reaction showed a certain disrespect for the players who had qualified brazil for the competition, won the confeds cup and put together a fine run of results - but it's not easy when you're 20 and people keep telling you how great you are.

  • Comment number 61.

    I don't think there will ever be another Zidane (except for maybe his son) and it is a shame that players are constantly dubbed the new Zidane, or the new Maradona, or the new Pele.

  • Comment number 62.

    Ganso could join players such as Meriem, D'Alessandro, and Aimar who have all failed to live up to their comparisons rather than being judged on their own merits.

  • Comment number 63.

  • Comment number 64.

    Last week you referred to the collective Tim, and mention it here too. Is it just that different varieties of collectives can arrive at similarly high standards, but if you try and swap some of their components, it just doesn't work out? Or is it just that the Brazilian League is weak, or at least, weak in terms of collectivism, because the individualistic swagger of 1970 is still the benchmark, and it mustn't be allowed to die? Much as we would love to see a Clodoaldo smoking a cigar, singlehandedly take out the whole of the opposing midfield week in week out, there's little room for sentiment in the modern European game. You don't see any showboating from Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, OR Alves. It's inefficient. They are mechanical, parts of a ruthless, workmanlike, well oiled machine that rarely breaks down.

    Excuse my ignorance of South American football, but I think I'm right in saying that Brazilian football seasons in particular are less predictable than European ones. Is one of the reasons because it's more individualistic, and we all know human behaviour is less predictable than a Mercedes? When European clubs need a Bosch spark plug, what they sometimes get instead is one of those alcohol powered Brazilian cars. Much more romantic, but doomed as far as the overseas market goes.

    Getting back to the collective, it seems to me the pinnacle of a Brazilian footballer's career is playing for his country, and because of the special history and reputation of the national shirt, the peak of his energy is geared to this, so his sense of club collective and international collective may be different. On the contrary, it appears to me the European footballer's senses are generally more balanced.

  • Comment number 65.

    I saw Ganso play sometime he is maneuverability and has an eye like Zidane hope he makes it big


  • Comment number 66.

    Hi Tim,

    I have to admit - this is the first I have heard of Marcos Rojo. As an Argentina fan, I would love to hear your opinion of him. What qualities does he possess, and do you think he has the potential to be a future member of the national team?

  • Comment number 67.


    One thing that's been puzzling me for a while is why Denilson - the Arsenal one - can't get a sniff of a place in the national side. He's not necessarily going to be first choice, but for him to be completely out of the picture suggests that it's not to do with his playing abilities. Is there some off-the-field reason?

  • Comment number 68.

    Just wondering how Possebon has settled in back in Brazil, do you expect him to be starting for Santos? He looked a really good player early on at United but never quite came back from the Pogatetz incident.

  • Comment number 69.


    Lucas has made mature developments as a holding mid.
    If anything, the shape of the game in Brasil needs to change to his style, based off evidence of the last world cup.

    I wrote him away from Liverpool long before most others did, I made a mistake. I hope he retains his value as a needed commodity in the Reds midfield, I am not worried, he is a star in the makings

  • Comment number 70.

    #59 & #61 - hats off to you both. Couldn't agree more. Sadly, though, the greats of the game will always be at the forefront of fans' memories, and this naturally leads people to make comparisons with future players. Indeed, in 5-10 years' time, people will be dubbing future hot prospects as the new Ronaldo/Messi etc.

  • Comment number 71.

    Marcos Rojo's move to Spartak surprised me. Tim. what do you think of the possible move of Jose Luis Fernandez to Benfica from Racing? Is he ready? and will he get game time?

    Moving onto Brazil, you named Neymar and Ganso. What do you think of Luiz Danilo of Santos? and Rodrigues Lucas and Carlos Casemiro of Sao Paulo? These have been getting a lot of game time, do they have potential to reach the National Team in 2-3 years?

    Very good read by the way! and like you say, a lot of young south american players fail to live with the culture differences in Europe and land up where they came from!

  • Comment number 72.

    Great blog Tim, great to hear about such a young talent like Ganso. I'd be interested to hear how he could be compared to other young players in Europe such as; Wilshere, Pastore and Sergio Canales?

    It seems to me like he could really do with someone giving him advice all the time if he did make the move to Europe, perhaps someone that had done it before and been a success. Do you think that the Brazilian FA should perhaps take a more active role in overseeing his development both whilst he's in Brazil and when he makes the move to Europe?

  • Comment number 73.

    #72 "Do you think that the Brazilian FA should perhaps take a more active role in overseeing his development both whilst he's in Brazil and when he makes the move to Europe?"

    I can answer that, since it's pretty simple: the Brazilian FA (CBF) simply doesn't give a damn about Ganso, developing young players, developing Brazilian football as a whole, whether it's the big clubs, small clubs, big stars, youth players, etc. CBF and it's president Teixeira make FIFA and Blatter look like Mother Teresa.

  • Comment number 74.

    Tim, you see the trouble Latin American youth players have in being sold too early in their development. Do their European buyers not see the danger as well? Why don't they lend them back for a season before bringing them abroad, or at least put them in a feeder club? These clubs can't be stupid.

  • Comment number 75.

    Interesting blog, great read. I have a question about another young brazilian player Wellington Silva.

    As an Arsenal fan i had recently become excited to hear we had signed Wellington Silva, I have watched some videos of him and read that he is regarded as a potentially very exciting player. My understanding was that he was meant to be joining Arsenal this year, but recently I have read that FIFA has reversed their decision to award Wellington his special talent VISA so he will be unable to join Arsenal as soon as hoped and may have to be loaned out somewhere else in europe for a few years.

    Can you spread any light on this subject? And do you think Wellington Silva a player that could eventually shine in the premier league and the national team?

  • Comment number 76.

    You can kind of see this in the example of Sandro at Spurs, not sure if anyone has mentioned him yet (didn't go through all the comments). He arrived as a Copa Libertadores winner and has barely had a kick this season.

  • Comment number 77.

    I partly agree with your comment Tim, about it being about players developing in their home surroundings at a crucial stages in their lives. However I believe it's also about the clubs helping the foreign players settle in. The best example is Barcelona and Messi. He's been there since he was 13, and now look at him. You could say, despite Fabregas beginning at Barcelona, he really has grown up with Arsenal, deputing at the tender age of 16. However, these 2 clubs go about their business with youngsters in quite a unique way, and in a way that should be an example to other clubs around the world. I think in Brazil, when a player gets a chance to get a fat contract with a foreign club they feel the need to take their chance whilst its their, otherwise they might never get the chance to earn so much for themselves and their family's to be financially sound in later life. You hear so often in Brazil in particular, the dream for players is to player in Europe, and the basic reason for this is because of the money. I think it's a question of taking the money whilst its their on offer, or having the belief that you will develop in to a better player with your club in your native country. I am quite sure we will see Neymar playing in Europe in the not so distant future too, and as for Ganso, this guy needs to actually prove something in not just his state league, but Brazil's Serie A, which he is yet to do. Its way to premature to even mention this guy in the same breath as Zidane. Taarabt has more skill than Ganso and at the moment a better player

  • Comment number 78.

    great blog, Tim. What are your thoughts on Dayro Moreno, the other Once Caldas forward?. Dou you think he is ready for the european football?. He has already been named the best player of the colombian league in 2010 and is a set piece on Bolillo Gomez squad for the next Copa America.

  • Comment number 79.

    'justboy'.. I know abit about Wellington Silva as I'm a Fluminense fan (the club you got him from). He's attitude is questionable. He has a lot of raw talent, but hardly featured at all for Fluminense. The Fluminense coach refused to even put him on the bench, because of his attitude. Being late for training a lot was one thing Muricy (the coach) told the press about why Wellington Silva would never feature for Fluminense again. He only really featured for Fluminense in the Rio state championship, scoring 1 goal I think, and coming off the bench a few times. Im sure you know, Arsenal actually brought Wellington Silva off Fluminense in early 2010, and then said he could play the rest of 2010 season with Fluminense to get some games and experience. However, Wellington Silva ended up going back to Arsenal earlier than scheduled, so he could start with his new club sooner, as he knew it was not possible to feature for Fluminense any more. It's a shame, but he's young, people make mistakes, and im sure he will mature with Arsenal, as Arsenal are great with youngsters. He's fast, has lots of skill, loves a step over, he just needs to learn how to lay it off to his team mates more, other than that, theres not much to say about him.

  • Comment number 80.

    78 - dayro moreno is a very dangerous player, excels in wide spaces and can cut in to score from either falnk.
    he's already had a little go in europe - in romania - i think the idea was that he would do well there and move on to a bigger league, which didn't work out.
    a question mark against his temperament, perhaps. in line with one of the points i tried to make in the piece, you wonder if he can cope with adversity.

  • Comment number 81.

    Going by your example of Denilson.."tight dribbler", do you think another similar South American , Alexis Sanchez would be a failure in Europe, even though he has caught the eye from Udinese ?

  • Comment number 82.

    Zidane came to my attention (and to that of many other casual observers I believe) in 1996, after he scored that outrageous goal for Bordeaux from the middle of the park. He was 23 or 24 years old then, and had not been labelled 'the new somebody'.

    If only players could stay at home and enjoy their football with their mates in familiar surroundings until they are 24 or so... Unfortunately there is so much money in football that a South American teenager who 'flops' in Russia could easily have earned in a couple of 'flop years', what a middle class European professional (doctor, engineer etc) earns in 20 years, if not in a lifetime.

  • Comment number 83.

    Hi Tim I know its slightly off topic from this blog, but do you have any idea why Denilson of Arsenal is never selected for the national team ? Also what do you make of Wellington who has just joined Arsenal?

  • Comment number 84.

    @ 71. craigavfcnealis

    Fernandez is already having medicals in Lisbon for Benfica, so I think it's defo going through. But would also like to know what Tim makes of this move. Don't know much about Fernandez apart from his a 23 year-old winger.

    People have compared him to Di María but clearly he can't be that good, otherwise at 23 he would be off to another league with higher wages.

    But this does seem a good age to make a move to Europe, he has had his backbone in his home country and now maybe it's time to step up and realize his full potential.

  • Comment number 85.

    Hold a second, he refused to come off the pitch when substituted??? And for this the ciach was sacked?

    Ive never been to brazil and wish they could hold on to their players, but to be honest Im not surpised at the probelms they have had thorughout the years with corruption and the gerneral wastage of the countries resources with an attitude like that. If thats how individuals view institutions that pay their wages then it explains why for years the government was in such a mess. Doesnt he see he is undermining the very status of the club?

    Send him to Europe....soon see if he stays on the pitch after being substituted.

  • Comment number 86.

    35. At 3:30pm on 03 Jan 2011, Aarfy_Aardvark wrote:
    Tim can you go one blog without mentioning Lucas, Fabio/Rafael, Anderson and/or Denilson (Neves)? The whole point is to steer away from the predictable dirge that is football in England. Please stop pandering to the Premier League crowd, you are better than that.

    They are all candidates to be called up for the Brazilian national team and Tim covers Brazilian football, the league and the national team. Like it or not, Brazil exports players all around the world- including England. If you don't like mentions of players who are playing in english football then don't come to the BBC Sport website.

  • Comment number 87.

    Tim... I'm sure this is a lovely blog, but nothing can detract from the questionable and lets face it very shady looking photo of you! Please can you change it, it's rather 'creeping me out'. Cheers.

  • Comment number 88.

    @85 weezer316 you are mixing up two different events. Ganso refused to leave the pitch after being subsituted, but without any consequence to the manager. Tim argued that Ganso's behaviour set then the example for Neymar who, a couple of months later, had a hissy fit when looked over for a penalty taking. In this instance, the manager reacted by placing Neymar on the bench in the subsequent games - and that eventually led to his sacking as he resisted pressure from the board to restore Neymar back to first team.
    I agree though that in too many situations players seem to be treated as grander than their clubs in Brazil.

  • Comment number 89.

    if you really analyze Brazilian players that made it in Europe most of them are either defensive players that have speed , technique in addition to Brazilian football magic example Carlos, dani alaves,or great forwards with similar strengths romario,ronaldo,rivaldo,ronaldino i can remember any midfielder from Brazil that made an impact in last 10 years most of them are just OK exaple diego,lucas,elano etc

  • Comment number 90.

    @89 Think you are been a bit harsh on Brazilian midfielders there. With the exception of Pepe Reina, Lucas has been my club (Liverpool) most consistent player over the last 18 months. Elano has also had a decent time in Europe. Diego looked amazing at Bremen but his move to Juventus didn't work out. He is young enough though to get back to his past level. Gilberto Silva was a great defensive anchor for the Arsenal 'invincibles' and they have really missed him since he departed. Anderson at Manure is also starting to really blossom.

    With regards to Ganso, from the limited amount that I have seen of him he looks to be an elegant and intelligent player. If he must move at such a young age then I hope it is to Portugal, where there are strong cultural links and Benfica, Sporting and Porto develop young talent superbly.

  • Comment number 91.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 92.

    I am not a great fan of Lucas at Liverpool either but he has potential to develop into a decent midfielder, maybe even good enough for Brazil. Someone said that the benchmark today is Spain and that he would never fit there... think again, a Brazilian average midfielder did actually slot in very nicely in the side that won the Euro - Marcos Senna. When Senna was as young as Lucas he played for my side - Corinthians - and believe me he was no ace.

  • Comment number 93.

    pero04 at 90...Kaka?

  • Comment number 94.

    @8 When they complain about the cold, it is not the weather - it is the people. That is why Tevez too is always saying he is homesick.

    The English people seem to live an isolated life with no understanding whatsoever of communal relationship where people actually enjoy being with other without the need to drink first. But then perhaps I am wrong...

  • Comment number 95.

    Notice the best Brazilian of all, Pele, never left Brazil, until he was old and - dare I say it - over the hill.

  • Comment number 96.

    This is the problem with modern game, too much hype, Ganso has very good potential BUT he has to realise it first before stupid accolade is bestowed upon him

  • Comment number 97.

    90 - great comment but remember that Western Europe clubs are in financial crisis. That is especially true in Portugal, Spain and Italy (the main destination for Brazilians at the last 20 years or more). So many have gone to Russia/Ukraine.

  • Comment number 98.

    90 does not go far enough on #89 who I hope is joking.

    Deportivo la Coruna won the Spanish league 10 years ago with a central midfield partnership of Flavio Conceicao and Mauro Silva. Awesome.

    Lucas doesn't come close to them.

  • Comment number 99.

    #92- Very true- Marcos Senna was a pretty average player well until his mid-to-late 20's.

    And regarding #98- Lucas to me is already superior to Flavio Conceição, though the latter was a pretty solid player, and one that had the advantage of learning in one of the greatest teams I have ever seen, the Palmeiras side of 1993/1994. Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Edilson, Edmundo, Zinho, César Sampaio, Evair, Mazinho, etc, all in the same team, amazing.

  • Comment number 100.

    Wow that was a team. The original point was that there have been successful Brazilian midfielders in Europe. This, i believe, is a given.

    Lucas may well be a good player, but I have only see him play consistently average for Liverpool, and I watch most games. He's more sideways than David Batty.


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