Lucas Piazón – Chelsea’s ‘New Kaka’ finding his feet in Holland

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Joe Tweeds of Plains of Almería and Michiel Jongsma of Opta Johan and BeNeFoot profile Chelsea’s Lucas Piazón…

So far Lucas Piazón has struggled to establish himself at Chelsea, as Joe Tweeds writes…

Lucas Piazón must be kicking himself. At the time of signing him in the summer of 2011, Chelsea had an extremely talented teenager who was destroying fellow U18 sides in the academy on a regular basis. He had briefly sampled the delights of first team football and while not wholeheartedly impressing, he certainly played okay given his opportunities.

Two years later and Chelsea boast one of the best collection of attacking midfielders in Europe, while Piazón spent half a season on loan at Málaga playing second fiddle to Isco. Continue reading

Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool’s no. 10 from Brazil

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The Anfield Wrap writer Karl Coppack profiles Liverpool’s current no. 10, Philippe Coutinho…

His name is Philippe Coutinho and he’s the next one.

Liverpool have had Scottish, English, Welsh and Spanish super heroes of late but this is new ground. Even our greatest sides never had the magnificent mix of three fantastic footballing ingredients. Brazilian. Number ten. Stupid haircut. Excellent.

Personally, I love rough players. Give me Carragher the granite over Agger the artisan, give me Sissoko over little, dainty Joe Allen, the hulking Toshack over powder puff Owen but this is different. Little Phil could be taken away by the lightest breeze but I don’t care this time. He’s a pixie, a sprite and an irritant to all but his team mates. Continue reading

Rafael da Silva—Manchester United’s world-class whippet

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Chris Clarke of Manchester United fan site and podcast Can They Score? profiles the fuzzy ball of energy and enthusiasm who brought a Samba beat to United’s right-back position…

Spotted by Les Kershaw at the 2005 Nike Premier Cup in Hong Kong, the da Silva twins have brought a sense of Brazilian brilliance to United’s defence over the past five years. After signing from Fluminise the “two little whippets” have excelled in the first team since making the big move from Brazil.

Rafael made his league debut against Newcastle United at the start of the 2008-09 season but he really made his first impressions during his friendly debut against Peterborough; bombing up and down the right wing and drawing comparisons with the likes of Cafu and Roberto Carlos.

Playing without fear or hesitation, Rafael da Silva became an immediate fan favourite with his bubbly personality, infectious energy and attacking intent. Continue reading

Sylvinho and his Forgotten Spell at Manchester City

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Todd Pemberton looks back on Sylvinho’s second stint in English football and his season-long stay at Eastlands…

My club, Manchester City, has always been full of stark contrasts and juxtaposition. Never has this been more summed up than when we signed Brazilian Sylvinho on a free transfer from Barcelona. His final game for the Catalan giants was a victorious Champions League final where he played a full 90 minutes; his first game for Manchester City was against Scunthorpe in the League Cup, as Wayne Bridge’s understudy. A fall from grace or merely a neat anecdote surmising the sometimes strange nature of life in the Blue half of Manchester? Continue reading

Jo – a Brazilian Mercenary at Everton

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George Roberts remember’s Jo’s two loan spells at Everton…

Everton’s previous forays into the world of Brazilian football had been unmemorable. Ask fans about Rodrigo or Anderson da Silva, and you’ll most likely be met with blank expressions. The loan signing of Jô in February 2009 hinted at better prospects, however. Here was a striker with a reputation: Manchester City had paid some £18 million the previous summer to sign him from CSKA Moscow. Jô himself admitted he hadn’t settled well at City and had struggled to adapt to the pace and physicality of the English game.

The early signs were certainly encouraging. Making his debut against Bolton, the striker scored a brace; three more goals followed before the season was out. David Moyes turned down the option of a £10 million permanent move over the summer, but happily took Jô back on loan when he again found himself once again surplus to requirements at City.

However, Jô’s lack of physical presence and shoddy first touch became obvious. If Everton had been a side with a genuine passing game, this may not have been such an issue. Continue reading

Julio Cesar – a Champions League winner at QPR

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In one of the more bizarre transfer tales of 2012, Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar switched the San Siro for Loftus Road. Ash Rose, editor of Kick Magazine, takes a short look at his one season in the Premier League…

Few situations show QPR’s ridiculous transfer window spending in 2012, then the signing of Julio Cesar.

Having already given Rob Green a healthier contract then the one West Ham were offering him, Mark Hughes continued his own real-life game of Football Manager by bringing in the Inter Milan keeper on what we can only assume was an even bigger wage packet.

How Tony Fernandes and co convinced the former Champions League winner to move to W12 I’ll never know (obviously the suitcase fully of cash helped), but Green found himself relegated to number two after just one pre-season game. Continue reading

Oscar – Brazil’s Prince of Stamford Bridge

oscar_chelsea_reu_533133201SB Nation Soccer’s Graham MacAree profiles Oscar, Chelsea’s Brazilian magician…

There’s something of the child in Oscar. For most footballers, the spectre of failure compels them to take the safe route as often as possible, honing specific skills and executing them when the time is right. But children are notorious for their incredible blend of naivete and curiosity. Can I do this? Let’s find out! It’s a special kind of fearlessness, and it’s what makes Oscar so special.

There’s nobody else in this Chelsea team who can match what Oscar does. Juan Mata and Eden Hazard are magicians, of course, but there’s the feeling that they refuse to experiment on the same scale as Oscar does, favouring ruthless efficiency over flamboyance.

Which is why most of the most incredible, what-just-happened?! moments of last season came via Oscar. When Mata bends a free kick past the wall and just inside the post, there’s no feeling of surprise. Juan Mata’s is brilliant and will do brilliant things. Nor is it a shock when Hazard dashes through a cloud of befuddled defenders and slots past the keeper. That’s what Eden Hazards do.

Oscar’s trademark, on the other hand, is having the temerity to try the barely-plausible, to test the very limits of his skill at the drop of a hat. It seems as though the idea that what he’s about to attempt might not work never crosses his mind. Oscar’s moments of magic, in fact, are reminiscent of a certain Stamford Bridge legend. Continue reading