Philippe Coutinho – Liverpool’s no. 10 from Brazil


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

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


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

Sylvinho and his Forgotten Spell at Manchester City


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

Julio Cesar – a Champions League winner at QPR


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

Maicon – from world-class to world-weary at Manchester City


Anis Bazza looks back at Maicon’s inglorious stay at Eastlands…

Maicon’s arrival in Manchester was certainly an odd one. City already boasted arguably the two best right-backs in the league at the time while Maicon’s career was dwindling towards an inevitable return to Brazil. Inter Milan’s desire to get his huge salary off the wage bill meant Mancini couped the ageing Brazilian for as little as £3m. City supporters weren’t without their doubts though as Maicon signed on deadline day.

Maicon started plenty of games for supposedly a third choice right back, including both Champions League clashes against Real Madrid. He was even drafted into his first game against Stoke. It didn’t take long for Blues to realize why Inter had sold him so cheaply. I guess it’s fair to say Mancini, who was familiar with Maicon during his time at Inter, underestimated the effect age had on the Brazilian’s power and pace, two attributes that are so typical of his game. Continue reading

Guly do Prado – a Lower League Brazilian at Southampton

Guilherme do Prado-1283664

Southampton fan Rob Orr profiles Guly do Prado, a player who helped Saints secure back-to-back promotions…

Guilherme do Prado, known more commonly to Saints fans as ‘Guly’, first arrived on English shores as a loan signing from Italian side Cesena in August 2010. Being only the second Brazilian to play for Southampton after the great Charles Miller, the man credited with introducing the sport to Brazil, his unveiling was met with much optimism by fans of the South Coast club.

The club hierarchy did their best to float the deal as a marquee signing, promising that Guly’s samba skills would soon be lighting up the pitches of League 1 and might provide the catalyst to propel the Saints out of the lowly depths to which they had fallen. Do Prado did indeed do enough in his five-month loan spell, scoring six goals in 17 appearances, to ensure Southampton exercised their right to purchase him that January. He would go on to have a successful season, playing a major part in promotion to the Championship. Continue reading