Brazilian trequartista Paulo Henrique Ganso is being tipped to be the next superstar of European football and has now been linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur, but will he be able to cope with the physical demands of the Premier League?
Who is he?
Together with Santos teammate Neymar, Ganso is rated as the most exciting young talent in Brazil and the big hope ahead of the 2014 World Cup, which the country will host. Playing in an advanced midfield role, the gangly playmaker is at his best when threading eye-of-the-needle passes through to teammates and getting himself in the box to finish off chances himself.
Such was his impact after breaking through, there were calls for Ganso to be included in the 2010 World Cup squad, only for pragmatic coach Dunga to resist. The midfielder returned from the second major injury of his career in 2011 to help Santos to the Copa Libertadores, and he wishes to help the team in the Club World Cup before departing for Europe.
Self-criticism is a rare thing in the modern-day footballer, hence why it was so refreshing to see Ganso confess to having something of a stinker in the 2011 Copa America. Trusted in that most privileged of positions, the Brazil playmaking role, the 21-year-old did little to suggest he is Kaka’s long-term successor in the national team.
The first game against Venezuela was just his second cap for the Selecao, and he looked ill at ease. Things improved in the second match as he set up both goals in a 2-2 draw with Paraguay, but Ganso was unhappy with his overall contribution.
"I'm the first to criticise the way I'm playing when things are not working," he said. "I've looked at the match numbers and I'm making too many passing mistakes. I'm not being able to make that last pass to put the strikers in a position to score."
Brazil bowed out of the tournament at the quarter final stage and it looked like the weight of expectation had been too much for Ganso’s young shoulders.
The elegant left-footer has suffered his fair share of injury problems, but when not on the sidelines, Ganso is busy picking out team-mates with rangy passes, performing extravagant back-heels and making opposition players dizzy with his penchant for flicking the ball over their heads and collecting on the other side.
It may be the kind of habit that would earn the boy a kicking from Nigel de Jong and some of the other Premier League’s hatchet men, but it sure is fun to watch.
Capable of the spectacular from outside the area, and a calm finish in it, his 11 goals helped Santos win the Sao Paulo State Championship in 2010.
Ganso’s failure to prove himself on the international stage is certainly one concern, despite his international career being very much of the fledgling variety.
But that aside, many observers also feel that Ganso has not walked the walk domestically either. He has not been consistent with Santos, and many of his stellar displays have come in the relatively weak Sao Paulo State Championship and Brazilian Cup. Wowing in the Copa do Brasil is one thing, turning in consistent performances in the less forgiving confines of the Premier League quite another.
Wowing in the Copa do Brasil is one thing, turning in consistent performances in the less forgiving confines of the Premier League quite another.
A Brazilian attacking player succeeding in England is rarer than a total lunar eclipse, and it is unlikely Ganso would be given the time to thread a pass after spending five minutes giving three opposition midfielders the run-around.
Add to that his questionable injury record combined with England’s vastly different climate, and a potential move certainly has its pitfalls.
Chances of signing him
Ganso is a non-EU player, meaning he needs to have played in 75% of his country’s matches over the last two years to be granted a work permit. He has not done this. The player also revealed in a recent interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport that his dream was to join long-term admirers AC Milan in January. A move to Europe beckons, but after initially being linked with a move to Old Trafford and now Tottenham Hotspur, there could be several more potential suitors for the Brazilians services wating in the wings.
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