As expected, Leandro Pereira is packing. And as expected, he’s heading for Belgium. Club Brugge are forking out €3.5 million for the pleasure of having the Palmeiras centre-forward pull on their jersey.
So, why are Palmeiras letting go of their top scorer this season? And what’s on the cards for Club Brugge?
24-year-old Leandro Pereira turned professional in 2011, transiting through several small clubs in the interior of the state of São Paulo. He received attention in 2014 while playing for Chapecoense, at the time recently promoted to Série A. At the end of the season, he seemed set for Corinthians, but ended up at Palmeiras. Supporters of the Verdão were initially hesitant – used to “promising” players from smaller clubs coming and going without leaving a mark whatsoever – but little by little, Leandro won them over. A serious man, but with an easy smile, the 190 cm tall player positions himself well in the box, often scoring with headers but not only: in the last month, his quick and intuitive style of play has showcased his efficiency and objectivity, always seeking an opportunity to conclude. He has totalled 10 goals in 30 games: not bad, considering the completely remodelled 2015 Palmeiras squad, containing 25 (!) new players.
Thing is, it’s crowded up front at Palmeiras. Cristaldo, Mouche, Rafael Marques, Dudu, Gabriel Jesus, Kelvin… These all have rather different characteristics, but Alecsandro and – especially – Paraguay national squad forward Lucas Barrios are (or rather, were) Leandro’s direct contenders.
In the last few weeks, Leandro was mostly found on the bench, even while sporting good form. Many wondered why. We now know it was due to the already ongoing negotiations with Brugge. In the end, the Belgians bought 75% of the player: Palmeiras’ 50% and an additional 25% that were in the hands of investors (holding on to the last 25%).
The deal seems a true win/win/win scenario: Palmeiras have enough forwards already, and are making a reasonable revenue on the transfer – some R$ 5 million (US$ 1.4 million) net; Leandro takes an important step in his career; and Brugge get a quality player who has, I’d say, a good chance of making it in Europe.
Good luck, Leandro Pereira and Club Brugge!