Arouca is our #5

This afternoon, defensive midfielder Arouca agreed to withdraw his claim against Santos of roughly half a million US dollars in unpaid wages. The amount will instead be paid by Palmeiras, who in return will retain 40% of the player’s federative rights as Santos now have agreed to release the 28-year-old from his contract. The release would likely have happened anyway, tomorrow Friday, when Arouca’s case was to be brought up before a judge. By anticipating a deal, both clubs avoided what could have been a lengthy battle in the courts, in addition to keeping good, perhaps even excellent, relations between them. 40% of the player’s rights stay with Santos, while the remaining 20% belong to an investor.

Upon signing, Arouca will become Palmeiras’ 17th acquisition this season. And although both Zé Roberto and especially Dudu are considered big names, Arouca must be considered the heaviest hitter of them all. Strongly identified with Santos, where he resided 2010-2014, he has also played four caps for Brazil, in 2012.

As news leaked that Arouca was free to sign with Palmeiras, within minutes the #BemVindoArouca (Welcome Arouca) hashtag was trending on twitter.

— ooo —

Valdivia returned to the squad today. He was examined and, as expected, continues to suffer from an injury to the thigh. He will be put under special treatment.

Another player who will stay close to the medical department, but for considerably longer, is recently arrived forward Kelvin: he twisted his knee last week during training, did not tear any ligaments and will luckily not require surgery, but is expected back only in three months’ time. Leandro, Kelvin… The joke is Maikon Leite’s hiding a voodoo doll somewhere.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

tacasavoiaExactly 100 years ago, on 24 January 1915, Palmeiras – at that time of course known as Palestra Italia – played their first official game of football: Sport Club Savoia were the opponent at the Campo do Castelão and Palestra Italia won 2-0 after goals from Bianco and Alegretti. The date not only marks Palmeiras’ debut on the pitch and the club’s first victory, but also the first trophy: the winner of the clash was awarded the “Taça Savoia”.

futmelhor24 January 2015 will be remembered for a much lesser but still important event: Palmeiras’ supporter membership programme Avanti reaching 80.000 members and overtaking Grêmio’s position as the second largest after Internacional of Porto Alegre. With more than 16.000 new members only in January, the Avanti is continuously showing remarkable progress, no doubt fuelled by optimism due to the perceived strength of the squad and the attraction that is the Allianz Parque. As the programme grows, so does Palmeiras’ revenues: at current scenario, the Avanti should bring in some US$ 7.5 million to the club this year.

However, a word of caution: numbers can and most likely will fluctuate rather heavily as it only takes one missed monthly instalment for a member to drop out of the statistics. If Palmeiras fairs badly; if prices of the membership programme suffer adjustments (which they will, as they have been stale since 2013); if Brazil’s economy worsens… all these factors and many more can lead supporters to drop out – temporarily or permanently.  

That being said: a few months ago, the top duo from Porto Alegre looked sovereign. Today, only Inter and some 50.000 members stand between Palmeiras and the top position.  

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

crefisa_jerseyAfter more than two years of drought, with no Brazilian football clubs signing major sponsorship deals with the private sector (the few large deals sealed were all with the public bank Caixa Econômica Federal), Palmeiras today broke the ice by announcing financial institution Crefisa as the club’s Master Sponsor 2015-2016.

The deal will render US$ 8.5 million annually for the club, allowing Crefisa to place their logo on the chest and back of the Palmeiras jersey. Harmonizing in colour and style, the logo looks good against the deep green. Tasteful.

Crefisa was until recently in well advanced negotiations with São Paulo FC, but Palmeiras interfered, making Crefisa shift their focus. “Yes, São Paulo presented an offer, but Palmeiras’ offer was much better, the project is much better. The amounts involved are higher, but the project is very good “, said Crefisa president Leila Pereira at today’s press conference.

crefisa_logoCrefisa was founded in São Paulo in 1964 and is specialised in providing credit to public servants and retired professionals. The company has some 800 offices spread out in Brazil’s 26 states and the Federal District, having served more than 3 million clients throughout the years.

Closing the deal with Crefisa not only re-enforces Palmeiras’ position as THE mark in 2015, but also sets São Paulo FC back both morally and financially: for each month our foe goes without a master sponsor, he’s losing out on some US$ 750.000 in revenues.  

That being said, personally, I would have preferred Palmeiras closing a deal with an internationally recognised brand. The Allianz Parque, the link to the USA through AEG (a partner in Arena operations), the increased international exposure through expected participation in the Libertadores Cup: all these factors and more make me think a multinational brand would have been better suited.

But hey, no more looking back or “ifs”: it’s all about embracing this partnership and making the best of it in the two years to come. Count on Palmeiras’ supporters to do their part: in only a few hours, Crefisa’s twitter account has gone from a couple of hundred to almost 4.000 followers. I’m sure Crefisa’s management are also saying…

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Saturday we got a first glimpse of Palmeiras anno 2015. Although a few pieces were missing on the pitch – most notably Valdivia, Dudu, Kelvin, Robinho and Arouca – what we saw is more than enough to fuel aspirations. With less than two weeks of training, the starting eleven was an interesting combination of youth and routine, players aggressive and on their toes, most of them seemingly at ease and confident. Newcomers Zé Roberto, Amaral, Gabriel, Lucas, Leandro Pereira… They all elevated the quality, individually and collectively. The usual sighs, at least from my part, were directed toward Mendieta and Maikon Leite – two players that have little place in this reformulated squad, if you ask me. Oswaldo de Oliveira’s job to either shut me up or prove me right by giving their transfers the green light.

The game was entertaining and bore little resemblance to a traditional friendly: Palmeiras were pepped, wanting their first victory at the Allianz Parque.  And there it was 3-1, after goals from Leandro Pereira, Lucas and Cristaldo. Highlights below.

In the second half, Oswaldo made eleven substitutions. Well, actually 12: Mouche was injured and carried off after only a few minutes on the pitch. Unfortunately, he tore a ligament in his right knee and will need surgery: he’s only expected back in six month’s time. You will remember Leandro had foot surgery last week. The need for a numerous squad is obvious. Anything Palmeiras wishes Mouche, who already has been receiving a lot of support via social media, a speedy recovery.

Coming Saturday Palmeiras are expected to play one last friendly before the Paulistão kicks off. Opponent to be confirmed.

— ooo —

Mattos isn’t done. Palmeiras have confirmed the signing of 24-year-old centre-back Jackson. He comes as a one-year loan from Internacional of Porto Alegre. From the stands, the defender watched the friendly against Shandong, radiating excitement with the year to come.  

Ryder+Matos+ACF+Fiorentina+v+FC+Dnipro+Dnipropetrovsk+75Gk1zG8gRQlA 16th signing may be announced soon: 21-year-old offensive midfielder/winger Ryder Matos. Originating from Vitória’s youth academy, Matos was picked up by Italian club Fiorentina already at the age of 14 and was envisioned a tremendous career, a “Brazilian Messi” of sorts. Initially corresponding to expectations, years went by and things didn’t quite work out as planned. In 2012-2013, Fiorentina placed Matos at Bahia, where he played in the junior leagues. In 2014 he was back in Europe, this time on loan to Córdoba of Spain. He hardly entered the pitch.  A new one-year loan, now at Palmeiras, seems to be his destiny. The Verdão‘s director of football seems to believe the kid still has a future: the draft contract stipulates the price in case Palmeiras wish to purchase Matos by the end of the year.

— ooo —

Although the words “Master Sponsor” make me nauseous, a deal is apparently close, either with an electronics manufacturer or a national financial institution. “Announcement before the end of the month”, they say. Have we heard that before… Reportedly, the deal corresponds to some 10% of Palmeiras’ total expected revenues in 2015: a rather low percentage due to a) Paulo Nobre having finally understood that in this day and age, few are ready to pump US$ 10 million into a Brazilian football club, and b) the overall increase in expected revenues for Palmeiras this year, mainly boosted by the growth of the Avanti supporter membership programme (more on this later) and increased ticket revenues, making the master sponsor deal comparatively less important.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

While yesterday’s post was still hot off the presses, Palmeiras confirmed the signing of centre-back Victor Ramos. The player, currently at Monterrey (Mexico) will undergo medical exams before joining the squad, as a loan, until the end of 2015. At Palmeiras, the 25-year-old will face competition from Wellington, Thiago Martins, Gabriel Dias, Tobio, Nathan and Vitor Hugo.

Today, Palmeiras kept the amazing pace, with two more players set to join and raising speculations that the club struck oil at the recently rebuilt Allianz Parque multi-purpose arena:

Alan_PatrickAlan Patrick – the offensive midfielder started his career at Santos, in the same batch that brought us Neymar and Ganso. His economic rights belong to Shaktar Donetsk of Ukraine, although he played last season for Internacional of Porto Alegre. Passing medical exams, he will join the squad – either on loan or as a purchase. To be confirmed.

kelvinKelvin – the 21-year-old forward comes as a loan from Porto (Portugal) until the end of the year. In Brazil, Kelvin only played for Paraná before his early transfer to Europe. At Porto he made history by scoring the decisive goal against Benfica in the game that gave Porto the 2013 championship title. Kevin is fast and works his magic predominantly on the right flank: it’ll be interesting pairing him up with Dudu up front, with Valdivia (or Robinho) and Zé Roberto feeding them balls to work on.

Reportedly, Palmeiras are also negotiating with centre-back Jackson, belonging to Internacional but who played for Goiás last season. Palmeiras and Jackson have agreed on terms and apparently Inter, this afternoon, gave the deal – a one-year loan – its blessing. Stay tuned.

Finalizing, there’s Aranha. The competent Santos keeper yesterday followed Arouca’s example, seeking to be released from his contract due to unpaid wages. Likely destination? You got it.

With all this activity, no wonder Palmeiras’ membership programme AVANTI has skyrocketed: today, Palmeiras passed both Corinthians and Cruzeiro. With some 68.000 members and counting – more than a thousand 2370 new members only today – Palmeiras now has the third largest supporter programme, trailing only the two largest clubs from Porto Alegre: Grêmio (80K) and Internacional (128K).

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Mad Hatter Mattos

mad hatter2.
It’s called a “chapéu” in Brazil, a “hat”: the art of flicking the ball over an opponent’s head in a manner that normally looks – and certainly feels – rather humiliating for the latter. Mention the chapéu to any Palmeiras supporter and he will most likely recollect Alex de Souza’s little masterpiece against SPFC in 2002 (below).

Now, a chapéu can also be performed off the pitch, in any circumstance in life, denominating a surprising turn of events with an unexpected victory or achievement. Sunday morning, Palmeiras were the protagonist behind one of the most impacting chapéus in recent times, officially announcing the signing of forward Dudu.

Dudu_dynamoEduardo Perira Rodrigues – known as Dudu – is a 23-year-old forward who started his career at Cruzeiro before, still a teenager, transferring to Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev. He has played two caps for Brazil, in addition to seven caps at U20 level. Last season he was back in Brazil, on loan to Grêmio, and everybody expected him to transfer to either SPFC or Corinthians this season, as both clubs radiated their optimism in closing the deal – Corinthians even semi-officially advertising him and including him on the list of players bound for the USA for a number of pre-season friendly games.

São Paulo FC or Corinthians, Corinthians of São Paulo FC? While the two battled it out, Palmeiras’ football manager Alexandro Mattos made a few calls and rapidly closed the deal. For 100% of Dudu’s federative and economic rights, Palmeiras will pay Dynamo approximately US$ 7 million in two instalments. The player’s salaries will match Valdivia’s: some US$ 130 per month.

Dudu is a quality player. Very fast, he likes to burst down the left flank, steal the ball, set up counter-attacks. Technically and tactically, for Palmeiras, is he worth the US$ 7 million and the high salary? Time will tell. One thing’s for sure: in terms of recovering the self esteem of palmeirenses, Dudu came cheap. The chapéu, actually the DOUBLE chapéu that Palmeiras pulled off, was a surgical operation bearing all the characteristics of Mattos: quick, convincing, efficient. Believe me when I say Palmeiras supporters were smiling from ear to ear all Sunday afternoon.

But Mattos is not resting on the trigger: today Palmeiras announced two more players, the tenth and eleventh, respectively:

Rafael_marquesRafael Marques: to be honest, there are only moderate expectations in regard to the arrival of the 31-year-old centre-forward, but as he comes on a loan until the end of the year, no harm done. It was actually coach Oswaldo who requested him, them both recently having worked together at Botafogo. Starting his career at Campinas, Rafael has been around quite a bit, playing predominantly at smaller clubs in the state of São Paulo, with a brief session in-between at Palmeiras in 2004. He later transferred to Turkey, where he played for two different clubs, before playing three seasons for Japanese Omiya Ardija. After that he had his 2012-2013 Botafogo spell, before another international transfer, this time to Chinese Henan Jianye. Enough?

robinhoRobinho: the so far most dragged out negotiations were finally concluded today as Coritiba accepted Palmeiras fourth offer, receiving the equivalent of US$ 900.000 for 50% of the 27-year-old playmaker’s economic rights. In addition to the money, Palmeiras lend Coritiba midfielder Mazinho (one year loan, salaries paid by Palmeiras) and two other players of Coritiba’s choice (out of a restricted list, of course, and these two also on loan with salaries paid by Palmeiras).

Robinho had a very good 2014 at Coritiba. He is well known for his precise passes, and comes with recommendations from master chapeleiro Alex de Souza himself (they played together at Coritiba): “here he played well, my friend. good player, helped out a lot here in the last years”, Alex messaged me on twitter. In the end, Robinho’s desire to play for Palmeiras was a determining factor in the negotiations.
Fool if you think it’s over. Paulo Nobre has indicated there’s room for additional signing, and Mattos is on it. Already tomorrow, Palmeiras are expected to announce the signing of forward Jonathan Cafu, from Ponte Preta. Palmeiras are purchasing 25% of the 23-year-old’s economic rights, and rumours have it the contract has a duration of three years.

Negotiations are also well advanced with centre-back Victor Ramos, former Vitória and Vasco da Gama, currently at Mexican Monterrey.

aroucaIn addition, expectations are VERY high for a positive disclosure with 28-year-old defensive midfielder Arouca. Palmeiras and the player are in agreement and were conducting negotiations with Santos, but Santos started making tough demands, before suddenly announcing Arouca would either remain at Santos or transfer to a foreign club. Arouca finally had enough and last Friday filed a lawsuit against Santos, demanding a release from his contract due to a breach in regard to salaries: Santos owe Arouca and many other players in the squad three months of salaries – by law, enough for them to be released from their contracts. And in cases like these, the Brazilian justice system works fast and “always” in favour of the employee. Arouca should be free to sign a new contract by the end of the week. Great signing, if everything goes according to plan.

Finishing things off, a short note on forward Leandro, our number 38, who was out during the last month of the previous season due to pains in his left foot. During the pre-season, pains quickly returned and the solution was surgery. He should be leaving the hospital tomorrow but can only be expected back on the pitch within 2-3 months. Anything Palmeiras wishes Leandro a speedy recovery.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

A week from now, Saturday 17th, Palmeiras welcome Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. from China to the Allianz Parque for a friendly game. The event marks Oswaldo de Oliveira’s debut as coach for Palmeiras, and also his first opportunity to test the newly assembled 2015 squad.

Shandong Luneng were founded in 1993 and are based in the capital of Jinan, coastal province of Shandong, eastern China. In the Chinese Super League, where 16 teams battle it out, Shandong finished fourth last season. In spite of its young age, the club has already won the League four times, in addition to winning six different Cup titles. Shandong are currently sponsored by Nike.

The “Orange Fighters”, as Shandong are nicknamed, have a Brazilian coach in former Atlético Mineiro coach Cuca. He runs the show with his technical staff of nine, all of them Brazilian except for three. You will also find Brazilian players in Shandong’s squad, most notably former Palmeiras forward Vágner Love (furthest to the right) Midfielder Júnior Urso and former SPFC forward Aloísio complete the trio. It’s likely that yet another Brazilian will join the squad soon: national squad striker Diego Tardelli, who worked with Cuca at Atlético. A conclusion is expected within days.
In 2013, Shandong signed a “sister club” relationship with São Paulo FC. Shandong have similar relationships with Australian Adelaide United and Japanese Jubilo Iwata.

Before Palmeiras’ debut in the São Paulo Cup on 1 February, one more friendly is expected, on 24 January, opponent to be confirmed.


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