“Sandro Raniere: the greatest Brazilian to grace the Premier League.”
I’m hoping that’s what Tottenham supporters (and unbiased critics) we’ll be saying in a few seasons time, when the beastly midfielder marshals our midfield to glory. There’s nothing wrong with ambitious desire and this is no day dream. I believe it and more importantly, Sandro has the look of a man who believes it too.
He’s only twenty-three years of age (the same as Gareth Bale) and last season looked set to further elevate his stature and evolution until injury put a stop to it.
Even if he’s yet to fulfil his potential in the real world, within the virtual worlds of football video games at least the Brazilian box-to-box man has become one of the most rated players around, regarded as a potential great packed with potential greatness.
It’s an impressive level of 21st century hype considering the player’s rather humble beginnings and previously meagre profile back home.
One esteemed South American journalist once cited how Sandro (then at Internacional before he departed for North London) was not as skilful as Lucas (now of Liverpool).
That’s hardly the most exciting of comparisons, so what were Tottenham getting exactly? Simply put, a winner.
Sandro lifted the 2010 Copa Libertadores before joining for around £8M, the first (and only signing) of a supposed affiliation with Inter. His development was slow brooding: patient. Scott Parker was dominant in the defensive role and Sandro was a mere fledgling, making sporadic appearances but showcasing both the good (strength, willingness) and bad (adoption to the pace of the English game, over-eagerness).
Although ‘bad’ in this case was simply a learning curve. This was a kid signed from a Brazilian club tested in waters he’d never swam in before and he displayed one trait that more or less told us he would be successful. He had no problem swimming face on in the direction of sharks. Sandro Raniere is fearless.
Parker’s injury allowed him to take the role of brick wall just in front of the defence and he made it his own last season. His breakthrough performances at the San Siro against Milan and the return leg in early 2011 were equally influential, mature and utterly convincing. The kid was a man. We all knew that but now, so did the world. It set the standard, one that he hasn’t lost grip on.
Last season he was pivotal to the spine of the side. His duty in aiding the defence and supporting the midfield, allowing for the expressive freedom of the likes of Dembele was vital to Spurs attaining cohesiveness. His fit into Spurs is perfect complimenting Lloris in goal, Vertonghen in defence, the aforementioned Dembele and the likes of Holtby and co.
The manner in which he covers ground, biting the legs of opposing players (not literally, but that would probably be a far more comfortable experience for an opposition midfielder), winning tackles and generally breaking up play is a thing of brutal beauty. Others might disagree, but the eye of the beholder(s) at White Hart Lane will tell you otherwise. His work ethic is as important and inspiring as a pulsating run towards the penalty box from Lennon or Lamela (or Bale).
His injury last season meant we had to adapt but we also lost the power and controlled ferocity he brings to the team. This isn’t the Hulk smashing his way through enemies. This is Bruce Banner controlling the Hulk for more deceive destruction.
Sandro may well be one of the most important Tottenham players of his generation and due to this he’ll be missed when he’s injured.
Yet when he is available Spurs will be stronger and more stable in bullying the midfield of any opposing side that dare to ignore his ‘you shall not pass’ sign post.
If his footballing ability and potential isn’t enough for you to feast on, there’s his personality too. Pancakes, karate kicks, guitar playing, singing… he’s colourful, confident and charismatic on and off the pitch.
Sandro is the all-singing, all-dancing samba prince and that dream remains lucid. One day he’ll be king.