Cristaldo… and Nobre’s other 34 signings

signings.
There was an almost audible, collective sigh of relief when pending documents from Metalist finally arrived yesterday afternoon, permitting 25-year-old Argentine striker Jonatan Cristaldo to sign a four-year contract with Palmeiras only hours before closing of the International transfer window.

Cristaldo is expected to go straight into Palmeiras’ starting eleven, possibly already on Sunday against São Paulo FC. He’s the fourth Argentine arriving under Gareca; Tobio, Mouche and Allione being the other three. Tobio is a starting man in Gareca’s eleven, so is Allione.

Gareca’s list is short but rather sweet if compared to the complete list of players brought in during the 19 months of the current administration: a whopping 35 players – almost two per month. That’s 10 forwards, 8 offensive midfielders, 7 defensive midfielders, 7 centre-backs and 3 left/right backs. Out of the 35, no less than 15 – or 43% – have already left the squad.

There is something to be said about the “professionalism” in signing so many players. It costs. And especially if they aren’t starting eleven material. If we exclude the last four brought in under the influence of Gareca, who is a regular out of the 35? Lúcio and Marcelo Oliveira. With plenty of goodwill, we could possibly add Leandro and Henrique.

The signings reveal a lack of confidence and, more seriously, a lack of planning. Instead of careful and methodical analysis of what kind of quality player is needed for which position, Nobre/Brunoro go out and buy 3-4 generic options in the hope that one or two of them will prove a pleasant surprise. When none of them develops in the desired direction, improvisations take place, as with Marcelo Oliveira – frequently alternating between centre-back and defensive midfield.

It’s not a question of finances. More modest teams have had their squads defined for weeks, even months, and are showing considerable progress in harmonisation and tactical obedience. At Palmeiras, the coming and going of players, combined with the improvisations, has led to vulnerability – so much that Palmeiras have only mustered to bring home two out of the last 24 points in the Brasileirão. Palmeiras are still trying to form a coherent squad, targeting the second half of the Brazilian championship and the remainder of the Brazil Cup. This could prove too late.

Below, signings during Nobre’s first 19 months as president, with the * indicating a player who has already left the club.
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Right defenders (1)
Weldinho (Corinthians)

Centre defenders (7)
Vílson* (Grêmio)

Tiago Alves* (Mogi Mirim)
Thiago Martins (Mogi Mirim)
Lúcio (São Paulo)
Tobio (Vélez)
André Luís* (Nancy)
Victorino (Cruzeiro)

Left defenders (2)
William Matheus* (Goiás)

Paulo Henrique* (Santos)

Defensive midfielders (7)
Marcelo Oliveira (Cruzeiro)

Charles* (Cruzeiro)
Léo Gago* (Grêmio)
Eguren (Libertad)
França* (Hannover)
Josimar (Internacional)
Bruninho (Portuguesa)

Offensive midfielders (8)
Ronny* (Figueirense)

Rondinelly* (Grêmio)
Mendieta (Libertad)
Felipe Menezes (Benfica)
Marquinhos Gabriel* (Bahia)
Bruno César (Al Ahli)
Bernardo (Vasco)
Allione (Vélez)

Forwards (10)
Leandro (Grêmio)

Kléber* (Porto)
Serginho* (Oeste)
Ananias* (Cruzeiro)
Alan Kardec* (Benfica)
Rodolfo (Rio Claro)
Diogo (Portuguesa)
Henrique (Portuguesa)
Mouche (Kayserispor)
Jonatan Cristaldo (Metalist)

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