It took only a few games for Argentine Hernán Barcos to get noticed in Brazil. The 27-year-old striker, who was formally introduced as a Palmeiras player on 7 February, has played seven games and already scored five goals: two of them in the recent derby against São Paulo.
Hernán Barcos was born in Bell Ville, Córdoba, on 11 April 1984. He started his professional career for Racing in 2003 before initiating his international tour: during six years he played for no less than six different teams – Guarani, Olmedo, Red Star, Huracán, Shanghaï Shenhua, Shenzhen Football Club and LDU. It was at his last club that he started to gain fame, winning the national championship and scoring 53 goals in 92 games 2010-2011. It was also while playing for LDU that he caught Luiz Felipe Scolari’s attention.
“For me, Palmeiras was the first option” Barcos explains in a recent interview. “It was what I wanted, even if considerably higher offers were coming in from Asian clubs. I don’t think only about money, I also include the peace of my family and the possibility to live in a football country like Brazil. And then Luiz Felipe Scolari requested me. When you have a chance like this, you can’t afford not taking it. For me, Palmeiras represents a club with national and international aspirations. When I was a boy, I watched Palmeiras play and thought ‘What a joy to play there’.”
If Barcos continues scoring goals in his current pace, the tranquillity he’s enjoying while walking on the streets of São Paulo will soon change into something similar to the intenseness of attention he used to get on the streets in Ecuador. Perhaps Barcos foresaw this when opting for a house outside of the city centre and in a gated community, where he has settled in with his wife Cristina and their two kids Avril (3) and Emílio (1).
It’s not only his abilities with the ball that stand out: Barcos’ straightforward and serious approach to his profession has also struck a chord with Palmeiras supporters, tired of trouble-makers, false prophets and so called “pipoqueiros” (players that jump out of the pan when the heat is turned on).
In addition, Barcos takes no shit from journalists – something reporter Léo Bianchi from TV Globo quickly learnt when trying to compare the recently arrived player with the popular Brazilian singer and composer of folk music Zé Ramalho: “I’m here to talk about football” and “You don’t look very serious to me” was just a few of the things Barcos told Bianchi before moving on with the press conference.
Barcos’ dream is to participate in a World Cup. As he’s never been called up by the Argentine side, he recently decided to seek Ecuadorian citizenship. “I’ve scored 54 goals for LDU in the last two years, many of them in international competitions. I’ve never been remembered (by Argentina). Today I’d like to play for Ecuador. I don’t know if I’ll receive an invitation, but I want to be ready” he says, expecting a reply from the Ecuadorian authorities within a few weeks.
The twist of irony: if the naturalisation indeed happens and Barcos then receives an invitation to join the squad, his first game for Ecuador might be against Argentina on 3 June for the fifth round of the World Cup qualifiers. There it is: one more reason to root against Argentina.