Sonar pings #51

Ayrton_apresentacaoYesterday morning, right-backer Ayrton was formally introduced as a Palmeiras player, pulling on the #2 jersey while confidently smiling to the press. Ayrton was signed shortly after the Brazil Cup title, well before Palmeiras were relegated. If Ayrton is having any second thoughts, he didn’t give anything away during the press conference, on the contrary praising Palmeiras history and greatness, while expressing his desire to succeed in the club and help bring trophies home.

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Now without Marcos Assunção, it’s Ayrton and Souza – the latter the redheaded defensive midfielder returning after a loan to Náutico – who will be responsible for free kicks and corners. In last year’s Brasileirão, Souza scored seven goals, four of these on free kicks. Ayrton scored three out of four on free kicks.

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Also yesterday, but rather late at night, striker Barcos finally signed the much talked-about extension of his contract with the Verdão. The new contract is valid until the end of December 2016 and includes both a salary raise and an exit clause with a higher transfer fee: from € 20 million to € 30 million (roughly US$ 40 million). The new agreement also settles that Palmeiras have the right to explore Barcos image in Brazil, while the Argentine contains the rights to his image in his home country. Everyone seems happy. And so should be.

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Palmeiras are looking for other reinforcements as well, most notably two centre-backs, a playmaker and possibly a striker. A new proposal has been submitted for the defender Torres, but Millonarios seem more than reluctant to let him go. Late-stage negotiations are also running their course with 34-year-old ex-Boca Juniors playmaker Riquelme and left-back Márcio Azevedo of Botafogo. All of these could close or none of them – the second option seemingly more realistic, perhaps with the exception of Azevedo where a Palmeiras sponsor is already detaining 50 per cent of the player’s economic rights and might facilitate the transfer.

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Palmeiras’ football “manager” Cesar Sampaio is not only deeply involved in all of the negotiations mentioned above, but also working for free. With an expired contract, he continues doing his job and patiently awaiting some sort of definition about his future – most likely, a non-renovation of his contract. That however doesn’t seem to bother Sampaio much, who claims not being working for free but only fulfilling his obligations. “The way I see it, I’m contributing, and that satisfies me. Working at Palmeiras is about more than money. Later, we’ll see what happens.”, he recently told journalists.

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While some work for free, others can’t even be bothered to show up for training after the end of the year festivities. Who? The usual suspect, Valdivia. The vagabundo claims to have entered into a specialized, exclusive, amazing, high-tech recovery programme for his knee back home in Chile and that the programme needed completion. The number of days in said programme was known at the start. So why didn’t Valdivia call in? “No one would believe me anyway” was his lame excuse when returning to Brazil several days behind schedule and after having been unreachable by phone for days. For once, Palmeiras did the right thing and slapped him with a heavy fine.

Valdivia seems in good shape though and should be available in ten days when Palmeiras make their debut in the São Paulo Cup 2013. Clearly bitten, he stated the other day that in 2013, “he will play for himself and for the (Chilean) national team.” Is that so, vagabundo? Good luck. I hope you shine on the pitch and that your misdirected anger and frustration at least serves us some good until you reach your goals. Then, you can go to hell.

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In the Copinha, Palmeiras kicked off beating Confiança 6-0. Two days later, a goalless draw against Sertãozinho. With four points, Palmeiras lead the group. Tomorrow, against Barueri, possibly a draw but most likely a win propels Palmeiras to the knockout phase.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!


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