In the second part of a special feature, Tim Stillman of Vital Arsenaland 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 →
In the first of a two part special, Tim Stillman of Vital Arsenal and Arseblog takes a look at how some of the Seleção have fared when they returned to Brazil…
Much has been written in the past around the ability of Brazilian players to adapt to life in the Premier League. It’s difficult to pontificate on the subject without lapsing into cliché – a challenge Rob Brown met manfully at the outset of this series. Rob was correct to point out cultural differences between the two countries. The punctuality of the Premier League training regime is at odds for a country for whom ‘antes tarda do que nunca‘ (‘better late than never’) is an ingrained cliché. I attended a graduation ball in Minas Gerais back in July and I was already yawning by the time we arrived at the event shortly before 1am.
Football is more of an art than a science in Brazil and its national league, Brasileirão, bears those traits for better and for worse. The league is temperamental to say the least. Not simply because of the amount of yellow and red cards you can expect to see, but the league table is capable of turning itself upside down from season to season. Most clubs are basket cases financially, which prevents any one team from dominating. Teams are generally very evenly matched; one or two astute signings can see you leap up the table. Cruzeiro, who have ostensibly fought relegation in the last 3 seasons, currently lead Serie A by 12 points.
The appointment of Marcelo de Oliveira Santos as coach and canny additions such as Dede and Everton Ribeiro has been enough to catapult them to champions elect. Yet it’s likely that Cruzeiro’s promising players will be picked off soon enough and they will have to start again. Meanwhile, Fluminense (1st in 2012) and Vasco da Gama (5th) are all in a relegation battle in 2013 due to tumultuous club politics. Again, without wishing to stereotype, the Brazilian game tends to be honed ‘na rua’ (‘in the street’) which isn’t necessarily conducive to the tactical rigidity often required in the Premier League.
Consequently, Brasileirão contains a fair sample of players who have tried their hand in the Premier League. It’s far too simplistic to say that Brazilians don’t “do” tactics, this is a nation with five World Cups after all. In truth, Brazil’s last two World Cup triumphs, in 1994 and 2002, weren’t achieved with anything close to the flair of the 1970 squad, who still leave a deep imprint on the popular perception of Seleção. Brazil has always been renowned for the flair that they have given the game. “Futebol art” and “jogo bonito” are football clichés applied to the nation. Yet Brazil are not as renowned as they ought to be for the quality of their “volantes” the Brazilian term for defensive midfielders. “O volante” literally means “the steering wheel.” Continue reading →
Tim Stillman, writer for Vital Arsenal and Arseblog, remembers Julio Baptista…
Arsenal have a rather lukewarm history where Brazilian players are concerned. Edu and Silvinho were good squad players that will also be remembered for passport issues. Denilson and Andre Santos won’t be remembered as success stories, whilst a fleet of young Brazilians, such as Wellington Silva (currently out on his fourth loan spell) and Pedro Botelho haven’t made the grade. Interestingly, Botelho is currently enjoying a fine season at Atletico Paranaense, who sit 3rd in Brasileirão having been promoted from Serie B last season. Fran Merida is also on their books, but playing much more fitfully.
Going back further, Arsenal’s reserve left back Juan’s most notable achievement was to spawn the amusing chant “There’s only one Juan” in his solitary first team start against Gillingham in 2002. Gilberto Silva has been the only unqualified success having left his home state of Minas Gerais in 2002 to win a league title and two F.A. Cups at Arsenal. But there can be little debate about one of Arsenal’s least auspicious Brazilian signings. Julio Baptista joined on loan from Real Madrid in the summer of 2006, with a homesick Jose Antonio Reyes going in the opposite direction. Baptista arrived at Arsenal with some expectation and not solely because his talents had been acquired by Real Madrid. Continue reading →