I love Twitter. I love the insight, the access, the debate and I love how it makes me look like I’m doing something on my phone when I’m in public with nothing else to do. That being said, however, Twitter does infuriate me. Every Tom, Dick and Harry (no associations or usernames intended) suddenly becomes a “source” for transfer rumours and if you believe everything you read players have signed for four different clubs within half an hour of each other.
It’s funny that this has only just recently started to wind me up. I’ll admit that during the Eden Hazard transfer limbo I enjoyed seeing millions of tweets so assured that he was signing for United, it gave me hope. This, alas, didn’t come to pass, and since then the endless nonsense really has started to get on my nerves. I’ll be honest, it’s really since we were linked with a certain Lucas Moura.
I would not pretend to be an expert in South American football, but I do consider myself to be more informed than most. Having spent most of the last two years engrossing myself in Brazilian football and particularly in the Sao Paulo state clubs (Sao Paulo, Corinthians, Santos, Palmeiras and others) I have seen quite a lot of this young prodigy.
He is fast, surprisingly strong, reasonably intelligent but to be honest I was really surprised that United would be interested in signing this type of player and more specifically this player. To be daring I would go so far to say he’s a Theo Walcott 2.0. I have no love for Walcott. I hate his predictability, bombing up the wing after hitting the ball past his opponent, head down until he reaches the edge of the box where he’ll keep his head down and inevitably fail to connect a cross or pass.
Now, Lucas is better than this, but sadly his game resembles that of Walcott on occassion. He is also prone to disappearing in games where defenders have the measure of him. His career has seen him come through the youth ranks of Juventus and Corinthians before signing for Sao Paulo in 2005. For the senior team he has made 104 appearances in competitive matches, scoring 26 goals and creating 20 goals for his teammates. This isn’t unimpressive but given that a lot of his performances have been in the state championships (for those unfamiliar check out great sources such as @Sambafoot_en on twitter and go to their website, or a google search will inform you) the calibre of opposition is below a decent standard.
Lucas struggled to really set the Campeonato Brasileiro alight. Flashes of brilliance has led to an impressive Youtube highlight reel, which judging by the comments on social media seem to be the main sources of peoples knowledge. Yes this is what Lucas is capable of, but he needs a lot of improvement before we even contemplate bidding half of the rumoured €33 million. I look forward to the development of his career…I just hope that it’s not at United. I can’t help but feel we are looking in the wrong part of Brazil for talent…
Sadly Chelsea and Tottenham seem to have been looking in the right part. The City of Porto Alegre in the state of Rio Grande do Sul is home to Sport Club Internacional. Inter is currently the club of two of the brightest prospects in Brazilian, if not world football. Leandro Damiao has attracted much media attention after an excellent season past that saw him top the goal scoring charts in the Campeonato Brasileiro. Hotly linked to clubs such as AC Milan and Tottenham Hotspur the latter of whom Inter have had an affiliation with which has seen Sandro sign for the North London Club, Damiao is rightly gaining international recognition.
It is Damiao’s teammate, however, whom I feel United should be pursing. One Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Junior, or Oscar if you feel thats a bit of a mouthful, is a young player recently bestowed with the high honour of receiving the fabled Number 10 Selecão Jersey. At just 20 years old he looks certain to keep it for a while too, so what is it about this young man whom few had heard of until he turned up for the Olympics and had a medical at Chelsea. Oscar’s career to date is an interesting one.
At senior level he started life out in Sao Paulo but left the club in acrimonious circumstances after his wages were not paid. He joined Inter in 2009/10 but was later ordered by a Court to return to Sao Paulo ruling that he was in breach of contract. He refused to return to the Morumbi and eventually in April of 2012 he was allowed to return to the Porto Alegre outfit who shelled out about €6million in compensation for him. Oscar has made 84 appearances for Inter scoring 19 goals and creating 22 goals but these stats do not reveal all that Oscar does for his club.
A shy personality who doesn’t seek the limelight, Oscar does his talking on the pitch and it’s obvious to see that this is his home. Two footed, pacey yet with that passing elegance and precision you would associate with a traditional number 10, Oscar has been shown as competent all across the midfield. Within the last six months however, he has been playing in a more advanced role playing largely behind the striker, although with the wonderful talent to drift out wide before exploding past a defender. Rather in the mould of Mesut Ozil, Oscar has the wonderful draw of being able to adapt into any system and position. His greatest trait, I believe, is the simplicity he brings to the game. He passes the ball with ease, he is able to control the tempo of the game and his vision and tactical awareness is simply superb. He has traits reminiscent of a young Paul Scholes and if by some miracle United hijacked the deal between Chelsea and Inter, Oscar could significantly increase Scholes’ effectiveness in the deeper part of the midfield. Oscar creates space, he drags defenders here, there and all over the place. Quick as a flash, however, he can play the ball into thirty yards of space allowing others time and space to advance an attack. Time and time again we have seen Scholes influence decline in matches where pressure is high and closing down is often.
Oscar’s abilities would certainly take pressure off Scholes to be the creative outlet but would also allow him space to impose himself on a game. Not that this is the reason we should be signing the young playmaker, but this is just one aspect of his game. Such is his favour and promise that just recently his former coach Dorival Junior said “Oscar is a modern player. He’s complete; he marks, he gets involved, he scores goals and he’s always moving. And he can get even better.” Which was echoed by Mano Menezes who said that Chelsea could expect “a very intelligent player”
Shinji Kagawa has been hailed as the creative genius United have been waiting for and I was both delighted and excited by his arrival at Old Trafford. The fact remains however, that he cannot be expected to do this by himself. A partner like Oscar who has proven experience in playing centrally, or on the right and left working with him could see many bullets being built for Rooney, Welbeck and Chicharito to fire.
The prospect of this is mouthwatering, but alas, it seems not to be. Whether Fergie isn’t a fan or United know he’s not for joining, the rumours haven’t circulated as I hoped. It’s to Chelsea most likely for this young man and for him I fear. Chelsea will stall his career. He won’t be guaranteed first team football and will waste his time on the bench.
If Romelu Lukaku is anything to go by, Oscar should reconsider his options. It does seem however, that we are for signing the wrong Brazilian (in my opinion) in Lucas. Ironically, Lucas had been linked strongly last year to Chelsea and many were shocked when chelsea completed the signing of Sao Paulo’s other Lucas [Piazon]. In fact so shocked were some commentators, a couple began to question if the Chelsea scouts had reported back the wrong surname and Chelsea had signed Piazon by mistake! I do like Piazon and think he has the potential to play at a high level some day, just not for Chelsea. He doesn’t seem to be the type of player they are looking for to meet Roman’s demands of perfection. It seems as though this time, they’ve possibly struck gold in Oscar.
As for United…well we’ll have to settle for second best again. Losing out to Hazard, not even seemingly interested in one of the brightest talents in Brazil (and before you all start at me, there is no doubting that Oscar is a better all round player and prospect than Lucas) and being prepared to pay silly amounts of money for second best isn’t something United should look to do, It is a tactic of our blue neighbours – just ask Gareth Barry and Roque Santa Cruz!
I like Lucas Moura, I really do. If United sign him I will cheer him on. I just cannot shake the feeling that we are wanting first class and getting easyjet. We don’t have a great track record signing brazilians. As much as I love Anderson he hasn’t set the world alight, the twins are full of promise but still have work to do and as for Kleberson…well enough said. Yes Lucas is a good footballer but Oscar is excellent. And how do we know? Well again we turn to his National team coach Menezes who when asked about just how good Oscar was said this “Put it this way…He wears the No10 for Brazil and we don’t give that shirt out to just anybody.”
Lets face it…we are signing the wrong Brazilian.
Written by Andrew Neill
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