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.