Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Neymar to PSG: Why mooted €222million move would be a gamble – not for club but for player

If reports in Brazil are to be believed, Neymar has told Paris Saint-Germain that he is willing to join them in a blockbuster €222million deal this summer.

That would smash the world record for the biggest transfer fee ever and would likely ignite the summer transfer window, prompting a domino effect that could have knock-on effects for all manner of other teams.

The stakes are high. PSG would be buying one of the world's best players, who is entering his prime and has the global star power to take them to the next level. But what about Neymar? There's good reason to doubt whether this would be the ideal move for him, given both short-term and long-term considerations.

I explain why it would be a gamble for the forward in my latest for Mirror Football. 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Who is Douglas Luiz? Manchester City's new signing profiled after sealing move from Vasco da Gama

“He is the real thing. He has potential that you don’t see in many players. He’s a classic No.8 and I’m sure there will soon be a spot for him in the Seleção.”

That endorsement, from Vasco da Gama coach Milton Mendes, will doubtless be music to the ears of Manchester City fans.

They might get to see new signing Douglas Luiz in a sky-blue jersey for a while, with a loan to Spain likely, but the teenager is viewed as a major talent in Brazil thanks in large part to his displays under Mendes this year.

Read my profile of the midfielder on the Yahoo Sport website.

Friday, 7 July 2017

The story of Pelé's first Brazil goal, 60 years on

"Let's give this little bunny rabbit a go!"

So it was (at least according to the player himself) that Sylvio Pirillo, the Brazil coach back in 1957, decided to give a debut to a 16-year-old bundle of fluff with wide eyes and thunder thighs. He went by the name of Pelé. Perhaps you have heard of him.

It was both the start of a beautiful story and the culmination of a series of unlikely events. For while the striker had made his senior debut for Santos some ten months earlier, it was in another team's jersey that he had caught Pirillo's eye.

Here's the story of that day, 60 years on, for The Independent.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Jean scouting report: meet the elastic young Bahia goalkeeper who plays like David De Gea

He watches videos of Manuel Neuer and Gianluigi Donnarumma, but his game most resembles that of David De Gea. That is quite the endorsement, of course, but Bahia youngster Jean is quite a goalkeeper.

"He gets more mature every day," his former coach has said. "His quality is indisputable. Every time he goes between the posts, he gives everything he has, body and soul."

That commitment was in evidence at the weekend, when Jean's heroics earned his side a point in the Salvador derby against Vitória. It was a performance to make scouts take notice.

Read my profile of the young stopper on the Unibet blog.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

How Jô got his groove back: once a Premier League flop, the striker is older, wiser and targeting a Brazil recall

"Since he arrived, he has been a positive influence in the day-to-day life of the squad. He supports the younger players and is a really hard worker. He's getting the reward for that."

That description does not readily tally with the commonly held view of Jô, the striker whose talent was more than matched by his penchant for partying during his time in the Premier League with Manchester City and Everton.

Now, though, at the age of 30, Jô is older, wiser and having a fantastic season for Série A pace-setters Corinthians. He even has one eye on a Brazil recall for next summer's World Cup in Brazil.

Read my piece on the, erm, reJôvenation (sorry) on the ESPN website.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Yerry Mina scouting report: Why the Barcelona-bound dance master could be the next great centre-back

He's got moves, you cannot deny that.

Yerry Mina, the Colombian defender who is starring for Palmeiras in Brazil, celebrates goals with moves that would make Fred Astaire green with envy – and is partial to a jig in his spare time, too.

That would be neither here nor there were Mina not also a very promising footballer, but he's got that covered too. Powerful in the air and capable with the ball at his feet, he has been the most impressive centre-back in Brazil over the last year, and a deal is already in place for him to move to Barcelona.

Find out all about the 22-year-old in my latest scouting report for Unibet.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Wendel scouting report: Meet the ice-cool Fluminense midfielder who has Barcelona and Milan scouts swooning

At times, it's tempting to think of football as a complicated beast. Then someone comes along and reminds you of the simplicity. at its core You get the ball, you pass it, you put it in the net.

He may only be four months into his senior career, but already Wendel is one of those players who makes everything look easy. The 19-year-old has taken to the Fluminense starting XI like a duck to water, belying his tender years with displays of real class and confidence.

It's little wonder European scouts are already queueing up to get first dibs. Barcelona and Milan have already made enquiries, while Sporting Lisbon are also rumoured to be keen on his services.

But just who is Wendel and what would he offer a team on this side of the Atlantic? Find out in my latest Unibet scouting piece.