I cannot think of a better moment for the inauguration of a new space dedicated to Anything Palmeiras. The club is a virtual bee hive considering everything that’s been going on since the beginning of the World Cup break starting in June and extending into mid July. Truly exciting times for Palmeiras and all Palmeirenses! Let’s have a quick resume of recent events, shall we?
Palmeiras suffered a bad start in the 2010 national championships, the Brasileirão, resting at a rather non-flattering 10th position at the break for the World Cup, a full eight points behind the leaders after seven rounds.
Since then, the team has lost what was considered two key players: Diego Souza and Cleiton Xavier. Souza went to the Belo Horizonte club Atlético Mineiro, coached by Vanderlei Luxemburgo. Xavier was negotiated with the Ukrainian team FC Metalist Kharkiv. These exits has left Palmeiras with quite a hole in the midfield.
Fortunately, Palmeiras has also been contracting. The 26 year old striker Kléber, nicknamed “Gladiator”, returned to Palmeiras in early June after a season in Cruzeiro. Kléber played for Palmeiras in 2008, having arrived on a temporary basis from Dynamo Kiev of Ukraine. Unfortunately, Palmeiras was unable to secure him for a longer period and had to let him go to before mentioned Cruzeiro in February 2009. His return adds plenty of spirit, stamina and technical skill to Palmeiras’ attack.
Additional players arriving as of lately include the excellent winger Vitor (former Goiás), midfielders Marcos Assunção (former Grêmio Prudente) and Tinga (former Ponte Preta), and striker Tadeu (former Grêmio Prudente as well). In addition, a couple of youngsters have been promoted from the juvenile ranks and B-team, thus given a shot at stardom. Names include the promising left back Gabriel Silva, midfielder Mayko and strikers Vinícius and Patrik.
The most awaited confirmation is however yet to come: the return of “El Mago”, Jorge Valdivia. The 27 year old Chilean offensive midfielder wore Palmeiras’ jersey in 2007 and 2008, but is currently playing for Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates. Although negotiations to bring Valdivia back seem more than well advanced, no one is popping any champagne bottles until a contract is securely signed. Once it is, prepare for major celebration: “El Mago” features high on any Palmeirense’s wish list.
However welcome and necessary all the above additions are to the player squad, Palmeiras’ most important signing was without a doubt that of Luiz Felipe Scolari, or Felipão for short.
Scolari is of course well known by most football enthusiast. Years 1997-2000 he led Palmeiras to the Brazilian Cup, the Mercosur Cup, and their first Copa Libertadores title, being named the South American Coach of the Year for 1999.
In June 2001, Scolari was appointed manager of the Brazilian National Team, guiding the Team to the playoffs. Brazil entered the tournament not much of a favourite, but ended winning the country’s fifth FIFA World Cup title. At the end of 2002, Scolari resigned as manager of Brazil and later took over as manager for the Portuguese National Team, leading them all the way to the finals in the 2004 edition of the Eurocup.
Scolari went on to commanded Portugal to the semi-finals in the 2006 World Cup and to the quarter-finals in the 2008 Eurocup. He then left for the English Premier League club Chelsea, coached the team in the 2008-2009 season, but remained there for less than a year.
In June 2009, Scolari signed an 18 month contract with the Uzbekistani champions Bunyodkor, making him the highest paid football manager in the world, earning an etimated €13 million a year. He left by mutual consent in May 2010.
On June 13, Scolari was announced Palmeiras’ new manager after having signed a two and a half year contract, worth approximately €4 million a year. The signing remain controversial to this day, as Scolari by many is considered the ideal substitute for Dunga as again coach of the Brazilian National Team. Scolari, however, is categorically denying any plans of leaving Palmeiras before the end of his contract, which runs until the end of 2012.
But the news don’t stop here, dear reader! We’ve recently had the signing of the last documents needed to initiate the construction of Palmeiras’ new stadium, the gloriously modern multi-usable “Arena Palestra Itália”. Also, new team jerseys were presented at the beginning of the week. These two events will be covered separately in following posts. Stay tuned!