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The squad for the 2014 edition of the Brasileirão is in formation. Starting with the removal, at least for now temporarily, of players that have not lived up to expectations during the São Paulo Cup.

Striker Vinícius is packing his bags, heading for Vitória/BA, on loan until the end of the year. Youngest ever to debut in the Palmeiras jersey, he has only scored eight goals in the 100 and something games played for the Verdão. He won’t be missed.

There’s also a bunch of players returning to Palmeiras from other State of São Paulo teams: keeper Deola (relegated with Atlético Sorocaba), centre-back Marcos Vinicius and midfielder Ramos (both at Rio Claro), midfielder Bruno Dybal and striker Emerson (relegated with Oeste), midfielder Diego Souza (Grêmio Barueri), midfielder Edilson (Penapolense) and striker Tutinha (relegated with Paulista). All these player are training in separate and should be again passed on to other clubs, in the hope they develop and one day are considered ready to join the ranks (re-join, in some cases).

Deola might be heading for Criciúma. I say Palmeiras ought to find opportunities also for Bruno, giving 23-year-old Fábio a shot at fame and fortune as second keeper after Fernando Prass.

Alan Kardec is very, very close to signing a new contract with Palmeiras, an agreement having already been reached with Benfica. Kardec is fine with the productivity model adopted by the Nobre administration and happy at the Club.

Another player seemingly ready to accept the productivity model is forward Patrick Vieira. His agent ruled it out completely just a couple of weeks ago, but the tide has apparently changed. Good.

Coach Kleina is more closely observing the youth academy, looking for signals that someone might be ready for greater responsibilities. Players at other clubs are also being observed – the list includes a couple at Ituano, the team playing Santos for a draw in order to bag the Paulistão title on Sunday.

telao_Wagner_pesinatoNot only the squad, but also the Allianz Parque is shaping up. Yesterday, one of two larger structures were being prepared for lifting: these will support the largest TV screens currently existing in Brazil, each measuring some 103 square meters and costing approximately US$ 3 million. The high definition screens will be placed at the far ends of the Arena, behind the goals. Picture to your right, courtesy of Wagner Pesinato.

WTorre has also recently released pictures of the proposed colour scheme for the seats at the Arena, sporting an abstract pattern, perhaps resembling camouflage. White and two shades of green will be used.
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Speaking of design: pictures of the third jersey for the centenary are out. The piece seeks inspiration from the very earliest models worn by the players of Palestra Italia. Gorgeous.
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To round things off, a video of Mr John Farrell, head of YouTube’s Latin America division, paying a visit to Palmeiras. In the interview, Farrell expresses how impressed everyone is at the growth of TV Palmeiras, within days bound to reach 250.000 followers on YouTube. Dedicated supporters, good publicity work and exclusive content is the key to TV Palmeiras’ success, in Farrell’s view. I’d say especially the last ingredient has been important in this specific case: Palmeiras supporters are very thirsty for backstage news. The insights into training and preparation routines of our players before and after games have approached players and supporters, showing supporters the human filling out the jersey out there on the pitch: a human of flesh and blood with aspirations, desires, fears and faith.
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If TV Palmeiras and media coverage interest you, you’ll certainly enjoy the upcoming article here at Anything Palmeiras: an extensive, all-exclusive interview with Mr Stefano Bozzi, Head of Programmes at Manchester United TV. MUTV was launched in 1998 and has today an estimated global audience of 6 million in 85 countries. Bozzi will tell us a little about concept, strategy, and how it is to work for a club with one of the largest – if not the largest – supporter base on the planet. Stay tuned!

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Eventually Palmeiras were going to lose their invincibility in the São Paulo Championship. Last Sunday, away against Botafogo/SP, Prass had to scoop the ball three times out of the net, while Valdivia scored for Palmeiras from the penalty spot. Sunday’s Verdão looked sluggish, feeling the absence of suspended Kardec as reference point, and with little support from the flanks. Botafogo on the other hand executed their plan perfectly, destroying Palmeiras’ midfield and taking full advantage of the opportunities materialising when counter-attacking.

Was the Botafogo experience an indicator of things to come, or just a bump on the road?

Yesterday against São Bernardo, Palmeiras responded clearly enough, with Kardec and Valdivia showing the way against the so far best defence of the Paulistão. Kleina opted for a 4-3-3, again testing different tactical options, already preparing for the more difficult clashes in the upcoming knockout stage: with four rounds to go, Palmeiras are virtually through to the quarterfinals. Highlights below.
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Lucas must be happy. As guest of honour, he not only participated in the press conference with coach Kleina but was at the stands to experience both the Palmeiras/Meltex victory on the court last Tuesday and yesterday’s display on the pitch. The kid is “pé quente”, as one would say in Brazil.

Alan Kardec bounced right back after the deception of not having been called up by Scolari for the national friendly against South Africa on 5 March. With a price tag fixed at € 5 million, Palmeiras are looking for investors to release the player from Benfica/POR. Shouldn’t be much of a problem, considering Kardec’s performance ever since arriving at the Verdão.

Wesley is a different story. Although part of the backbone of the current squad, Palmeiras might be forced to sell the midfielder, as the previous administration, led by Arnaldo Tirone, simply did not pay the instalments from the purchase of the player. In addition, a ridiculous three-year contract was signed, not five, meaning that Wesley as of August can sign a pre-contract with any other team and leave Palmeiras for free in early 2015. Palmeiras have two options: cough up some US$ 8 million for the two (out of three) outstanding parcels, or sell the player before August. The incompetence and recklessness of previous Palmeiras administrations never cease do amaze.

Patrick Vieira is also a question mark. The kid is negotiating the renewal of his contract, with his agent not showing much enthusiasm concerning the productivity mechanisms involved. Vieira hasn’t come on much, but was yesterday put into play in the second half and seemed motivated enough. Let’s hope for a successful conclusion.

Speaking of successful conclusion: shortly before the whistle blew yesterday, Valdivia got into a small argument with a São Bernardo player and was shown the yellow card. His third, meaning he will be out for the upcoming game against Portuguesa. Which he would be anyway, as he’s travelling to serve the Chilean national team. Now I’ve tried to reach a certain André Rizek all day for a comment, but his phone’s just giving me the busy signal…

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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It was announced yesterday (Wednesday) that offensive midfielder/forward Patrick Vieira will spend the remainder of the year at Japanese second division club Yokohama FC, Yokohama paying Vieira’s salaries.

At the start of the year, Vieira was growing under coach Kleina, until an injury in April halted his progression. With Mendieta and Menezes having arrived at the club, and Valdivia finding his way back to the pitch, Kleina apparently sees little opportunities for Vieira at this moment. As Palmeiras continues with strained financial resources and a too large squad, one thing has led to the other: Vieira is yet another of the Verdão’s youngsters transferred on a short loan basis.

Vieira’s transfer is being heavily criticized by Palmeiras supporters, most of them holding the opinion that the very promising 21-year-old should be moulded at Palmeiras, given opportunities to not only train with the A-squad but also play games. Sending him to Japan is seen as stupidity, as Japanese football culture and quality is perceived as low. “There’s nothing Japanese football can teach Vieira”, to sum it up.

Vieira has been at Palmeiras since the age of 16. He’s dedicating his life to football. That is his profession. But that’s not all he is.

I haven’t talked to Vieira, but I know people who have: they say Vieira would have preferred to stay but is happy with the new experience that the transfer entails. Who wouldn’t be? Who wouldn’t, at 21, be thrilled with the opportunity to spend five months in one of the most developed and fascinating countries in the world, do what you do well, and get paid for it? Explore a new culture, language, social codes and values? Put your limits, your perceptions, and your mind to the test on a day-to-day basis?

Would Vieira develop better footballing skills spending five months at Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United? Quite likely. Would they have him? Not very likely.

Would a second division team in Europe help him develop his footballing skills more than he would at Palmeiras? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Another Brazilian team? Not likely.

There are no crystal balls and no guarantees, but I’d bet Vieira comes back to Palmeiras in early 2014 – as president Paulo Nobre and the player himself have clearly pronounced being the objective – as a more mature young man: wiser, stronger, hungrier. These five months will do him good – much better than if he’d remain only training with the Palmeiras squad and playing the occasional game – and will have spin-off effects on his performance on the pitch.

Hulk spent four years playing in Japan, most of it in the second division. Just food for thought.

To Patrick Vieira, Anything Palmeiras wished the best of luck at Yokohama FC and a happy return to Palmeiras, Allianz Parque and the centenary in 2014. Avanti!
.Vieira

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With no competitions in the next six weeks or so, the squad has been sent on vacation. Players report back on 4 January. No matches means fewer post here at Anything Palmeiras, although I’d recommend you not to stay away too much; you’ll learn there’s plenty of action to write home about even during holidays.

Sub-20
The Brazilian Sub-20 championship is under way. The format of the competition is four groups with five teams in each, where the top two in each group advance to the quarter-finals. Palmeiras play in group 1 and currently ties for first position with Fluminense. The Verdão beat Atlético Paranaense 1-2 in the opening game and yesterday drew 1-1 with Fluminense. Check out the full tables to your right (source: globo.com).

Viera injured…
Yesterday’s game against Fluminense ended badly for midfielder/striker Patrick Viera, who was integrated into the A-team by Scolari in the second semester. The 19-year-old suffered a serious injury to his left shoulder and is undergoing surgery as these lines are being written. Viera will need 3-4 months before fully recovered. Bruno Dybal, recent sub-17 Paulista champion, replaces Viera on the sub-20 team. Good luck to both of them.

…and also Thiago Heleno
Another player going under the knife is defender Thiago Heleno. Thiago has for some time complained about pains in the frontal part of his feet. Turns out he has metatarsalgia, also known as stone bruise, which is a type of inflammation that occurs in a part of the foot known as the metatarsal (ball of foot), normally where the three middle toes meet the ball of the foot. It is a product of high impact activities or, sometimes, caused by badly-fitting footwear. The surgery is a simple procedure but recovery painstakingly slow: Thiago should be fit for play only in April – after the end of the São Paulo State Championship.

Transfer market
The injuries only further highlight the need for reinforcements at Palmeiras. The transfer market is bubbling with speculations and names are dropped 24/7. Palmeiras have yet to confirm any signings – which is a bit worrying – but have advanced in the negotiations with several players. Only one will be mentioned at this point, as both Palmeiras and the player seem to consider the transfer a done deal: Juninho, the 21-year-old left-winger who has played for Figueirense since 2009. Juninho was elected the best in his position in the 2011 edition of the Brazilian Championship, receiving the “Silver Ball Trophy” (picture). We’ll provide you with more info on this interesting player as soon as the signing has been confirmed.

Sponsors
Not only the transfer market generates speculations, but also sponsorship deals. It’s not yet official but well known that Fiat is withdrawing as main sponsor of Palmeiras; the toughening financial climate is allegedly partially to blame. Negotiations could be under way with another car manufacture and both Hyundai and Chinese Jac Motors have been mentioned. It would be good to have this sorted out as soon as possible so that Palmeiras could start the Paulista championship financially strong.

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That’s it for now. Next post will cover the visit of the female Italian national football squad, the upcoming friendly game against Dutch team Ajax, the “Babe of the Brasileirão” competition and  much, much more. Stay tuned!

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