Andre Santos – Arsenal’s cuddly maverick who loved fish and chips

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John Guillem looks back on one Andre Santos’ time in England…

‘Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.’

― Friedrich Nietzsche, Der Wille zur Macht

There are certain sad moments in our lives where the congenial veneer of our world peels back a little, revealing a brief, harrowing glimpse of limitation. All too often it is a realisation of transience or mortality: the moment when you can see white hairs on your mother’s head (or is it just that she can’t be bothered to dye anymore?), when your old form teacher retires, when the first creaks in the beloved sports pro’s game emerge.

In football, we tend not to encounter such moments of bathos, as everything is slathered with a thick layer of drama and hyperbole. Things are always one way or another, often both at the same time or interchanging so rapidly as to create a resonance effect: grey areas are scarce. Surprises are always hugely surprising or something we knew all along … so it’s surprising that I was surprised in just that way I mentioned before (the one about death and all that – that is, an unsurprising but nonetheless very much a surprise surprise) some eleven months ago, with a mildly but not hugely surprising individual at the centre of it all: Andre Santos.

The news in question was just a scrap of transfer gossip (arising, as they tend to, in a manner which is entirely logical if you work back to first principles, and as such is likely to have been made up by some journo, and unlikely to ever happen): given Nacho Monreal’s signing for Arsenal, and the fact that the Turkish transfer window was still open (he played there before, you know!), inevitably Andre would be moving out sharpish, Kieran Gibb’s six week plus injury notwithstanding.

Leaving that piece of bollocks aside for a moment, the simple realisation which accompanied it was that his days were very clearly numbered at Arsenal. In many ways, this was already pretty obvious (given that he plays like a horny bumblebee, only lacking much sting), but the gossip-giblet shifted my relationship to it from the cognitive realm to the emotional one – I realised that old uncle Andre wouldn’t be in the team again come summerfall, whether he would spend years on loan like Denilson or does us a favour and bugger off the wage bill (which – thankfully I suppose– is what did happen). He is, to return to the life and death bit, a gonner now, rather than a Gooner (if you’ll excuse the shitty pun). And now, indeed, he is gone. Continue reading

Brasileirão Returnees Part 2 – Denilson and Andre Santos

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In the second part of a special feature, Tim Stillman of Vital Arsenal and Arseblog takes a look at how some of the Seleção have fared when they returned to Brazil…

The first part of this feature looked at the fortunes of Gilberto Silva and Jô. Of a similar age to Jô is Denilson Perreira de Neves, now 25. Denilson signed for Arsenal from his hometown team São Paulo in August 2006. Having captained Brazil’s U-17, U-18 and U-20 side, he had a reputation as an up-and-coming talent. His introduction to Premier League life was gentle for much of his first two seasons, as he quietly impressed in League Cup fixtures. Then, in 2008, with Gilberto Silva, Lassana Diarra and Mathieu Flamini making a bee line out of North London, Denilson got his chance at the base of Arsenal’s midfield.

Initially he struck up a promising partnership with Alex Song and in the 2008-09 season he played over 40 games as one of Arsenal’s most consistent performers. However, he picked up a back injury during the 2009-10 season which affected his mobility. This resulted in him famously being overtaken by the referee as he meekly chased Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney en route to another United goal. Denilson was usurped by Song in the Arsenal midfield and failed to recapture his early promise. In the summers of 2011 and 2012 he signed a loan deal with his cradle club São Paulo. Continue reading