EAST RUTHERFORD NJ - AUGUST 10: Neymar #11 Paulo Henrique Ganso #10 and Alexandre Pato #9 of Brazil celebrate Neymar's goal against the U.S. in the first half of a friendly match at the New Meadowlands on August 10 2010 in East Rutherford New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Like Lucas Piazon earlier in the week, Chelsea are finding themselves being heavily linked to another youngster plying his trade in his homeland of Brazil. Also like Piazon, "Ganso" is being linked heavily to a club from Italy as well (in this case Inter, who may not have a "moral objection" to paying a fair wage for world class talent). While it's it's probably a little early to start looking too heavily at what we're going to do this summer, I want to make sure to give you guys a little peek at Ganso now while you may still be able to catch him in action. His club, Santos, is currently playing in the Copa Libratadores, which is the South American equivalent to the Champions League (and also features 3 Mexican teams). Santos don't look too likely to advance beyond the group stage, so if you get a chance to catch them now you really should (Neymar plays there as well). Ganso will also likely be playing with Ramires and David Luiz in upcoming Brazil friendlies, so if you watch those during the breaks keep an eye out.
Ganso was heavily rumored to be on the move last summer, but the player seems to prefer a move to England over Italy, which was harder to finalize prior to his senior national debut. He's also hinted that Manchester City aren't really for him, as he'd prefer a club that regularly is among the best in Europe. Brazilian paper O Globo had an interview with Santos chairman Luiz Alvaro de Oliveira in which he was quoted with the following nuggets:
"I have spoken to the boy and he wants to prove himself abroad"
"Before now, the chances that Ganso would leave Santos were zero, but it could be 50 per cent by the end of the season."
"Santos wants the best price for him and we will only accept a deal that is best for everyone - and that is likely to be with European football."
Looking at that, it seems fairly evident that the club and player will be parting ways this summer. We've been rumored to be interested in him along with both Milan clubs and our quarterfinal opponent Manchester United. I don't know too much about O Globo's reliability in general, but they broke most of the news involving Neymar last summer and the Robinho loan there a season ago, so they do seem to have some insight to Santos at the very least. That said, we'll take a deeper look with some video after the jump.
Ganso is an attacking midfielder for Santos, he's 20 years old and stands 6' 1/2" tall. He prefers to shoot with his left foot, but is fairly capable with the right as well. He was nicknamed Ganso on his arrival to the club because of his tall skinny build (Ganso means "Goose"). He'd be an ideal fit in any attacking midfield position, and can play centrally or on either side in an advanced role. He often lines up on the right side of the central three for Santos (much like Ramires and Essien tend to here), but cuts in more often than creating crosses. Defensively he's not bad at all, and he has a good work rate. With his size there is reason to believe he could become a decent box to box player in the future, but his primary strength is always going to be in attack.
Technically he's a solid player. He has good ball skills and passing, and his shooting is above average with either foot. He's pretty solid in the air for a midfielder, but could probably benefit from adding a little more muscle. He's coming off of a major knee injury, so he's looked a little tentative to play as physically as he used to. For such an attack minded midfielder though, he really has good physical tools. He'd probably be more valuable to a Premier League side than a Spanish or Italian side because of this. He's more of the creator than the finisher for Santos, and his passes are often the ones that set Neymar free on goal. His dangerous outside shot does tend to draw defenders towards him, which really helps create lanes for the strikers to run in.
He's been a regular starter at Santos for the last three years, and has been one of the best players in the Brazil U20 team over that same time. He was one of the 7 players listed as a reserve for the Brazil world cup squad, and made his first start for the senior squad in NY shortly after the conclusion of the tournament (the same day as David Luiz). Most speculation has him valued at around 10 million pounds, and it's clear that Santos is willing to sell him to the highest bidder. That's always a good thing to have in mind when dealing with Chelsea rumors. Here's a nice clip of some Ganso highlights from his breakout campaign:
Here's another one, this one is pretty long but does a nice job of highlighting Ganso for you:
As you can see, he's got a good work rate and likes to attack. Unlike his teammate Neymar, he's known for being a fairly humble and quiet kid. He's been noted for his excellent effort in practice, so there's every reason to believe he'd be able to adapt well in England, especially now considering there will be at least three other Brazilian first teamers and one more joining the youth ranks (and expect to be connected to at least two more as well). He's far more developed than Piazon, so he'd likely be slotting into the senior squad here immediately if we signed him. He'd be a nice addition, as our two primary attacking midfielders are both over the age of 30 now. I don't know if I'd break the bank to sign him, but he's a very exciting young player worth keeping an eye on. If the price is 10 million or less, he'd be a huge bargain and a risk well worth taking.
It's also nice to see Chelsea begin to be connected to kids still playing in South America. Many Italian, Portugese, and Spanish clubs have thrived for years because they were able to spot these kids and sign them at about this same age. Just this past year we've spent over 40 million pounds on a pair of young Brazilians that would have cost us less than 1/4 of that 2 years ago. I love Luiz and Ramires, but with the new financial rules we won't be able to continue to target these types of players to fill every hole, espescially if we aren't producing any from our youth ranks. If we can start to cut the Benfica's of the world out of our first team pipeline, we really should be able to make better use of Romans deep pockets.
One last thought one this rumor for now...how much fun would it be if we managed to sign both the "Duck" and the "Goose" this summer? That alone could make this kid a must have...