Several changes, big and small, are rocking the Palmeiras squad as coach Gareca continues his observations and makes adjustments.

Defender Tiago Alves and striker Miguel has both left for Ponte Preta, where they will be on loan until the end of the year. Alves was fourth choice even before the arrival of Fernando Tobio. And Miguel, from Palmeiras’ youth academy, never made an impression when given the chance in the first team.

Then there’s Bernardo, the troublesome attacking midfielder borrowed from Vasco da Gama some two months ago. He played only three games for Palmeiras before the World Cup break, has not impressed Gareca during these last four weeks of training and is now released to sign with Vitória, state of Bahia.

A fourth player packing is Marquinhos Gabriel, Saudi side Al Nassr having already officially announced his signing for the next three seasons. The also attacking midfielder arrived at Palmeiras in January and played a total of 19 games. A promising player, his economic rights were tied to BMG, who sold him to the Arabs. I don’t know at this point if Palmeiras are reaping any financial benefits from the deal.

valdHowever, the by far most impacting departure is that of Valdivia. For anyone able to read the signs, it was clear that the 30-year-old Chilean playmaker was hoping the World Cup would land him a final, lucrative contract with a European club. That didn’t happen, but instead, Emirate club Al Fujairah made ​​a great offer: € 5.5 million (US$ 7.5 million) for the player, in addition to paying the € 2 million (US$ 2.7 million) that Al-Ain, Valdivia’s former Arabic club, stipulated as fine should Palmeiras ever sell the player to any other club in the region.

Valdivia’s economic rights are split three-way: Palmeiras with 54%, investor Osorio Furlan with 36% and the player himself holding 10%. Valdivia is passing on his 10% share to Palmeiras, meaning Palmeiras will pocket 64% of the transfer amount, some € 3.5 million (US$ 4.8 million). That’s more than Palmeiras were counting on. On the downside is that the amount will be paid in instalments and settled only in 2015.

Valdivia travels today (Tuesday) to conduct medical exams and (hopefully) sign the agreement. He is then expected back in Brazil to wrap things up and bid his teammates farewell. On Instagram, he has already addressed the Palmeiras supporters, claiming he will be one of us forever:

Words cannot describe what this club represents in my life. And I’m not talking about football, but about life, about learning, about six years of dedication, of good or bad, of sticking it out in spite of all difficulties. Kidnapping, aggression, all this made me want the club even more. I am and will be forever grateful to the supporters, the club, and the people who always stood by me at all times. I was happy playing in the second division for the club that I love, bringing it back to [to the first division] where it should never, ever again, leave. My future is at another club, but my worship will be for life. I would have loved to stay, even growing old here, but the club needs this dough. I hope that you’ll understand, and recognize that I am eternally grateful to you. Forever thankful and forever pig.

That’s Valdivia. Hate to love him or love to hate him: he doesn’t leave anyone untouched.

— ooo —

In a press conference late Monday morning, Ricardo Gareca talked about his expectations for the restart of the Brazilian championship. He’s of course waiting for additional reinforcements – only Tobio and Mouche have arrived so far – and made it clear that they will arrive, but he just doesn’t know when. A prominent striker is topping the list, and now also a first-class playmaker.

Debuting on Thursday against Santos, Gareca expressed confidence but also some anxiety for the day to come. He also said we shouldn’t expect much tactical changes in relation to what we’re used to see.

When asked about the line-up, Gareca was firm: no player can take a spot in the starting eleven for granted. Not against Santos, not against any team. Message to journalists and supporters alike: wait and see.

— ooo —

Palmeiras and the Holiday Inn
Palmeiras has announced a partnership with the Holiday Inn Parque Anhembi hotel, the place where players and staff will meet up on the eve of home games. Onsite, the athletes will have a special menu prepared by club nutritionist Alessandra Favano. This coming Saturday, the players will check in for the first time, ahead of Sunday’s clash against Cruzeiro at the Pacaembu stadium.

Grass, green and strong
Last Saturday, FINALLY, the Allianz Parque started receiving rolls of grass. As previously mentioned, the grass needs some 30-40 days before the first cut. Will we have our home ready by the 26 August? If we were only depending on the grass… WTorre better put the pedal to the metal or well see another promised deadline pass by; this time provoking severe discomfort for everyone involved.
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