Forget Neymar come the World Cup it’ll be Ganso who carries Brazil's hopes on his shoulders and the No.10 on his back. Manchester United beware.
Coming from the poor state of Para, Paulo Henrique Lima had his first test at giants Santos at the age of 15. Nobody believed the slender clumsy boy would make it. On the bench a club employee was so cynical he used Brazilian football slang to tell everyone the kid probably sucked. “That one is a complete goose”. A few minutes later, the youngster scored. The perfect reply, “Who is the ganso now?”. Ganso is Brazil’s strongest candidate to have a number 10 on his back in 2014 and the big clubs are already chasing the 21-year-old.
He was discovered by former Barcelona midfielder Giovanni who has strong bonds to Santos and Ganso has described their styles as ‘very similar’. It may be, but the new Brazilian gem scores more often, has a stronger personality and already got silverware to show. Twice winning the Sao Paulo state trophy – the most important regional tournament in Brazil -, a Brazilian Cup and a Copa Libertadores, the South American version of the Champions League.
Destined to carry the burden of Pelé’s number in 2014 Ganso’s style is closer to another Brazilian playmaker who has worn the No.10, 1999 World Footballer of the year Rivaldo.
In 2009, he was in Brazil U20 runner up team in the Egypt World Cup. His role, though, wasn’t pivotal and he was often substituted. He’s yet to have a breakout performance for the senior national team although he played reasonably at Copa America and, despite the team’s lousy display, he was considered the most decisive player in the squad. His friend and Santos colleague Neymar, chased by Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona, bore the brunt of the criticism for Brazil’s elimination, while Ganso was somehow spared.
Destined to carry the burden of Pelé’s number in 2014 Ganso’s style is closer to another Brazilian playmaker who has worn the No.10, 1999 World Footballer of the year Rivaldo. He’s all long strides, long shooting accuracy and long face – very different from cheerful Neymar, who profits a lot from Ganso’s assists at Santos. As an old-fashioned Brazilian midfielder, Paulo Henrique suffers when tightly marked, something he’s likely to experience in Premiership football. But he’s developing as a player learning to find space and becoming physically stronger giving him an edge in the end of the matches against worn out rivals. He scores a lot in the last 25 minutes of a match.
He could be a great organizer for Man U’s midfield. But Italy seems to be closer to his signature; both AC Milan and Internazionale want him. He has started Italian lessons already and Silvio Berlusconi hears a lot about him from Brazil’s Alexandre Pato and Thiago Silva. He says he will only leave Santos after the Fifa Club World Cup, in December. So there’s still time for Sir Alex Ferguson to bring him to Old Trafford.
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