Palmeiras have announced a fourth reinforcement for 2017, and this time a heavy-hitter: offensive midfielder Alejandro Guerra, of current Colombian Libertadores Cup champions Atlético Nacional.
Guerra was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and is 31 years old. El Lobito – the little wolf – stands 169 cm tall and was elected MVP at this year’s edition of the Libertadores Cup, being decisive in his 13 appearances, scoring 3 goals. In addition to his highly successful earlier years at Venezuelan club Caracas and, more recently, at Atlético Nacional, Guerra totals 60 caps for the Venezuelan squad, including 10 caps this year.
Guerra arrives to fill a crucial spot in Palmeiras’ starting eleven: the absence of a playmaker has been topic of much discussion in the last years, ever since the departure of Valdivia. The irregular performances put out by the likes of Mendieta, Robinho and Cleiton Xavier had Palmeiras’ coaches look for creative solutions: Cuca occasionally used Zé Roberto, Jean and, in particular, Moisés as the link between defence and offense, making these players abandon their positions of origin. With Guerra in command of the offense, Zé will stay on the left flank, Jean on the right, while Moisés will do what he does best: compose that first line of defence, albeit with much offensive qualities added. On paper, a splendid setup.
The length of Guerra’s contract and numbers have not yet been disclosed: they will be known when the contract has been signed, after completion of medical exams.
Reportedly, Palmeiras are also in advanced negotiations with defensive midfielder Felipe Melo, since 2015 a player at Internazionale, Italy. In the last eight years, the 33-year-old Brazilian have added major clubs like Fiorentina, Juventus and Galatasaray to his CV, in addition to 22 caps for the national squad. Melo is characterized by his energetic and very physical playing style, which sometimes renders him premature visits to the locker rooms. His possible arrival is praised by many, but no doubt his temper should be regarded as a concern.
Palmeiras are clearly looking for experienced players with a bit of an edge, players that do not buckle under pressure, players deemed fit for Libertadores. Alejandro Guerra is the first of these to arrive. Expect a small number of strategic signings – which should include a killer striker – ready to go straight into the starting eleven. In addition, Palmeiras will sign a few younger, promising players – as the three already announced – to provide Eduardo Baptista with options during the very long and exhausting campaign ahead.
Palmeiras’ current firepower is impressive, measured by Brazilian and South American standards. Best thing, it is all carefully calculated, sustainable, based on assets in the club’s savings account and realistic projections of revenues in the year to come. Palmeiras are not taking loans, nor picking up advance payments from broadcasting rights or anywhere else, nor being at fault with other financial obligations. Palmeirenses in the loop understand the shift in paradigm, and rejoice. Adversaries, not so much.
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