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Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte and the club’s director of football Alexandre Mattos have spent days in Barcelona, working on an agreement with the Catalan club regarding centre-back Yerry Mina. Today, it was formally announced that Barcelona have agreed to extend their priority of buying Mina by a year, more precisely after the 2018 World Cup. The previous deadline was July 2017, smack in the middle of the Brazilian championship and the Libertadores Cup. Being able to keep the Colombian national throughout the season and more is excellent news for Palmeiras.

Yerry Mina arrived at the Verdão in May of 2016, after a dispute involving high-ranking teams in Europe. At the time, Mattos knew he could not compete with salary offers arriving from Germany, but he also knew Barcelona were monitoring Mina, likely to try a signing in one or two years’ time. Mattos contacted Barcelona, got the thumbs up, and then had Barcelona’s director of football call Mina up: “If you one day want to play for Barcelona, you must first head for our partner, head for a club we trust, and that is Palmeiras”.

In addition to the dealings involving the Colombian defender, Galiotte and Mattos advanced with negotiations aimed at a formal partnership between Palmeiras and Barcelona. Methodology of work, exchange programmes for coaches and youth division players were among the topics discussed. Stay tuned for further developments of this very promising alliance.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu flanked by Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte (right) and director of football Alexandre Mattos (left), with Barcelona vice-presidents Javier Bordas (far right) and Jordi Cardoner (far left).

 

The “Volta Cuca” phalanx of Palmeiras’ supporters are found silent, as our men performed very well away against Linense in the fourth round of the São Paulo championship. Collective, objective and with rapid transitions, the four goals came naturally, signed Willian, Raphael Veiga, Michel Bastos and Lucas Barrios. Without a weak card in the Palmeiras deck tonight, both Bastos and Keno had a splendid evening, only toppled by Dudu, masterfully distributing the game from an advanced position and directly involved in all four braces. The starting line-up consisted of Fernando Prass; Jean, Yerry Mina, Vítor Hugo and Egídio; Felipe Melo, Moisés, Michel Bastos, Raphael Veiga and Dudu; Willian. Keno came on for Moisés already in the first half, Barrios substituted Willian in the second, and Thiago Santos came on for Melo. Highlights below.
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The one downside to the evening was a considerable one: Moisés carried out on a stretcher after a bad foul, his knee having taken the hit in a far from healthy angle. The severity of the injury will only be known tomorrow, but better prepare for the rest of this semester without him.

Some training and rest ahead of Wednesday’s away derby against Corinthians, Palmeiras players and supporters now riding on a considerable confidence boost.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

In Brazilian football in general, and at Palmeiras in particular, time is never on your side. Palmeiras maintained all key ingredients of last year’s successful mix, except for one: the coach. Cuca, for personal reasons, has taken a break from football. In mid-December, Eduardo Baptista was announced as his replacement for the 2017 season.

Baptista debuted in the Paulista state championship beating Botafogo/SP 1-0, then lost 1-0 away to Ituano. These results, and the rather poor football presented, was enough to have segments of Palmeiras supporters raise hell on social media and the ultras of Mancha Verde last Thursday, with the scorecard still at 0-0 against São Bernardo, chant “Hey, Eduardo, pay attention, we want championship titles!”, before requesting the return of Cuca. Palmeiras went on to beat São Bernardo 2-0, goals by Dudu and Jean.

The topic of the week has been “pressure”. Even a seasoned player like Michel Bastos says he was taken by surprise by the volume of demands for expressive results and progress this early in the season. Everyone at the club, from directors down to players, all say the same: implementing a new style of play takes time: the squad and Baptista need a few more weeks to make it work. The premature ruckus has of course been picked up by the media, only adding more heat.
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Although the São Paulo championship is a traditional tournament and obviously has its merits, one cannot deny that it primarily serves as a laboratory for modelling and tuning the squad ahead of the Brazilian championship, the Brazil Cup and international commitments (this year, in Palmeiras’ case, the Libertadores Cup). Being allowed a certain tranquillity at the beginning of the season, while conducting experiments, is crucial for the development of the team and the overall outcome throughout the year.

For some supporters, this is all bull. They feel performance is driven by pressure, and must surface quickly. More importantly, they stress their right to complain, as supporters, and as ticket holders. The effect of the pressure applied seems secondary to the right of exercising it: a curious standpoint from a segment who normally states “Palmeiras above everything” and “Eternal love”.

Last year, supporters filled the airport to wave off the squad ahead of an important away game. They also gathered outside the training facilities with flags, flares and instruments, players stepping off the bus to thank the crowds. A few weeks back, supporters in large numbers were at the airport a 6am to welcome Miguel Borja. The potential for supporters to influence outcomes, both positively and negatively, is a given.

Luckily, most seem to understand that Baptista and his men indeed need to be given time: while the ultras last Thursday expressed their dissatisfaction, a large majority of “regular” supporters at the Allianz Parque booed them down. 

We are less than two hours from kick-off. The team’s performance against Linense, away, will be the determining factor for any amount of tranquillity Baptista and the squad will enjoy ahead of next week’s derby against Corinthians.

Patience! Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Palmeiras and Crefisa last week announced the renewal of their sponsorship agreement, securing the highest amount paid to any club in South America and the 10th highest in the world, pushing Juventus (US$ 19 million/year) from the list. Although figures were not disclosed by Crefisa president Leila Pereira and Palmeiras president Maurício Gagliotti at the announcement, they are known to sum approximately US$ 24 million/year, for two years, bonuses for championship titles not included.

In addition to the sponsorship deal, Crefisa continues to boost Palmeiras’ contracting power. The acquired outstanding 50% of Dudu’s economic rights is an example, the recent signing of Miguel Borja, at a US$ 10.5 million price tag, another.

In 2016, Crefisa saw a record profit, some US$ 325 million. It is hard to calculate the impact of Crefisa’s increased visibility on its profits, but without doubt the deal with Palmeiras brought the company into the spotlights. Some sports journalists insinuate money laundering to explain the relatively high sponsorship deal, ignoring the splendid results Crefisa presents. It is rather revolting how a well-established private financial institution suffers accusations, while state-run companies like Petrobras and Caixa use public funds to sponsor many a team in Brazil, little questions asked.  

Below, a list of the ten biggest sponsorship deals worldwide in football (according to Forbes).

#1 Manchester United (Chevrolet) – US$ 80 million/year

#2 Chelsea (Yokahoma Rubber) – US$ 57 million/year

#3 Manchester City (Etihad) – US$ 57 million/year (including stadium naming rights)

#4 Liverpool (Standard Chartered) – US$ 43 million/year

#5 Arsenal (Emirates) – US$ 43 million/year (including stadium naming rights)

#6 Barcelona (Qatar Airways) – US$ 41 million/year

#7 Bayern Munchen (Deutche Telecom) – US$ 34 million/year

#8 Real Madrid (Emirates) – US$ 34 million/year

#9 Paris Saint-Germain (Emirates) – US$ 28 million/year

#10 Palmeiras (Crefisa) – US$ 24 million/year
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Palmeiras v Internacional - Brasileirao Series A 2016

On the 9th of February, the 9 times Brazilian champion reached an agreement with the club’s new #9, Miguel Ángel Borja.

Five year contract, US$ 10.5 million for 70% of the player’s economic rights, salary roughly US$ 1.2 million/year. Release fee at € 60 million.

Adversaries, quiver to the bone.
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Sunday Palmeiras made their debut in the Paulistão, beating Botafogo/SP by the odd goal, signed Tchê Tchê. It was not a good game, as they never are in the beginning of the season. Still, one could note some differences in the marking, in the more careful ball possession, in the movement of full-backs. Eduardo Baptista is implementing his own style of play, and it will differ considerable from Cuca’s. Upcoming Sunday, away against Ituano, we have another opportunity to observe the transformation.

Tchê Tchê not only scored Sunday’s winner, but also suffered a small fracture to his left shoulder and is out for 4-6 weeks. Good thing Moisés seems fully recovered from the foot surgery and is training well.

Against Botafogo/SP, Zé Roberto played his 100th game in the Palmeiras jersey. Upcoming Sunday, it is Fernando Prass’ turn to celebrate his 200th appearance in green. Giants, both of them.

Speaking of giants: our “little giant” Dudu has extended his contract with Palmeiras for an additional two years, the contract now running until end of 2020. With the extension, his salary has increased and also the release fee.

You will frequently hear both club president Galiotte and director of football Mattos state that “more important than any signing, has been maintaining the squad intact”. One of the few remaining weaker cards from last years’ squad, defensive midfielder Rodrigo, was today announced by Sport on a one-year loan with an option to buy. However, in relation to key players, Palmeiras have made an additional effort, just like with Dudu: a total of six players, including Yerry Mina, have extended their contracts. The hiked release fees work as a deterrent for other clubs, while salary increases are both a recognition of a player’s value and a means to keep him happy as new signings arrive and the inevitable salary comparisons happen.

Today, the Palmeiras squad contains eight players who have served Brazil’s national (Jean, Vitor Hugo, Dracena, Arouca, Zé Roberto, Felipe Melo, Michel Bastos and Dudu); two Colombia’s (Yerry Mina and soon-to-be-announced Miguel Borja), one Paraguay’s (Barrios) and one Venezuela’s (Alejandro Guerra). That is twelve players of National squad quality, twelve!

The squad is not only qualified but also decent-sized, which is important considering the potentially many games and the long travel distances involved in Palmeiras’ 2017 campaign. If Palmeiras were to reach the finals in every competition, a staggering 80 games would be played in the season: São Paulo Championship (18), Libertadores Cup (14), Brazil Cup (8), Brazilian Championship (38), Club World Cup (2).

Now stay tuned for the official announcement of Miguel Borja.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Although officially consistently denied by Palmeiras, a deal has been cooking since November. Atlético Nacional naturally want as much as possible for their star striker, but the insistence on too high a price resulted in the European transfer window closing without any serious option on the table. Big dollars are also available in China, but Borja is young and hungry and not at all keen on a move to Asia. Palmeiras’ director of football Alexandre Mattos seems to have played his hand well.

What additionally has tipped the scale in Palmeiras’ favour is Borja’s own wish: in a fresh-off-the-presses interview for a Brazilian newspaper, he admits having swapped messages with former teammate Alejandro Guerra and fellow compatriot Yerry Mina about Palmeiras and liked what he heard. He also mentioned the feverish Palmeiras supporters and that he had received many encouraging messages through social media, already feeling welcome at the club. And then, a rather bombastic statement from the recently turned 24-year-old: “My family has already packed the bags for Brazil. I expect a decision to be reached by tomorrow or the day after”.

Word is Palmeiras are paying US$ 12 million for 50%-70% of the player’s economic rights.

Tomorrow, Palmeiras and Crefisa are holding a press conference to announce a two-year renovation of the sponsorship partnership. Expect numbers rarely, if ever, seen in Brazilian football: approximately R$100 million per year (US$ 32 million) with bonuses for titles won. Considering recent developments, I would say there is a fair chance the sponsorship renovation be not the sole topic on the agenda.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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