The playmaker – well known for his horse kick of a shot, dribbling and passing skills – is dearly remembered by palmeirenses for his 2009 last-minute away goal against Colo Colo (below), allowing Palmeiras to progress to the knockout stage of the tournament. A fixed star at Palmeiras 2009-2010, Xavier played 88 games and scored 17 goals before being transferred to Metalist Kharkiv of Ukraine.
Although a pillar at Metalist for a little over four years, unpaid wages and other pending issues recently had Xavier seek a release from his contract. Upon returning to Brazil, Palmeiras but primarily Cruzeiro showed interest in the player. Xavier’s initial salary request was absolutely incompatible with Palmeiras’ budget, but Mattos returned with a counter-offer and, more importantly, the right amount of sweet talk, seducing both the agent and Xavier himself: in the end, the prospect of cementing his status as a major idol at Palmeiras made the 31-year-old accept a considerably smaller paycheck. Undergoing medical exams today, Xavier is expected to put pen to paper sealing a 3-4 year contract.
Xavier is a quality player, but will have to seek his spot in a segment already bursting. Coach Oswaldo will have pleasant headaches picking his starting eleven. Further, this is the moment for Mattos and Souza show they have a tight grip of the locker room situation, not letting competition and/or salary-related envy spiral away into something ugly.
Yesterday, Mattos addressed the Palmeiras supporters, highlighting the fact that Palmeiras can be this aggressive due to the spectacular growth of the Avanti supporter programme. If that is enough to keep numbers from plummeting after a near future adjustment of membership fees, we are about to find out.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!