Today, the Palmeiras squad was reunited for the first time in 2017, kick-starting pre-season activities with 26 athletes all in all, including reinforcements Veiga, Bastos, Keno and Hyoran. Guerra and Melo have been given a few days extra, as they were playing throughout December. Also Mina has received additional days off, as he used the first week of his vacation to recover from injury.
In addition to players already wearing other club colours, others were missing due to already well advanced transfer negotiations: keeper Vagner, midfielder Gabriel, and forwards Allione and Leandro Pereira.
Right-back Fabiano is with Cruzeiro, awaiting a positive conclusion of the Robinho negotiation in order to return to Palmeiras. Possibly, Fabiano will return accompanied by yet another reinforcement: forward Willian.
Arouca and Barrios were also present today, although their permanence at the club is unlikely, both currently studying offers from other clubs, with Palmeiras’ approval.
Players present today:
Keepers: Fernando Prass, Jailson and Vinicius Silvestre
Full-backs: Egídio, Jean and Zé Roberto
Centre-backs: Edu Dracena, Thiago Martins and Vitor Hugo
Defensive midfielders: Arouca, Rodrigo, Thiago Santos and Tchê Tchê
Offensive midfielders: Fabrício, Hyoran, Michel Bastos, Moisés, Raphael Veiga and Vitinho
Forwards: Alecsandro, Dudu, Erik, Keno, Lucas Barrios, Rafael Marques and Róger Guedes
In addition, Palmeiras today announced the signing of Antônio Carlos, a 23-year-old centre-back who played for Ponte Preta in 2016. He comes with the blessing of coach Eduardo Baptista, responsible for Ponte’s more than decent 2016 campaign.
Speaking of Eduardo Baptista, the coach was the natural centre of attention today, as players for the first time got a closer look at their commander. The 46-year-old firmly states he is prepared for the challenge, highlighting that Palmeiras picked him because the club’s directors believe in his working methods.
Baptista is considered a serious, modern and dedicated coach: he spent last month watching all Palmeiras’ games in the 2016 Brazilian championship, having requested a wide angle viewpoint to allow for tactical analysis. He also had talks with outgoing coach Cuca. Baptista says he has reached an understanding regarding what good parts need to be maintained at Palmeiras, and the not so good parts to develop further.
Our new coach sees Palmeiras’ squad as very qualified, but the high number of games during the season – close to 80, if Palmeiras go far in all competitions – is a natural concern. The solution goes through a decent-sized squad and, more importantly, frequent rotation among players, according to Baptista. Fairness is crucial, making players understand that decisions will be based on what happens on the pitch – during training and games. Work hard, perform well, and you will have your go, is Baptista’s message.
Here at Anything Palmeiras, our message is the same as always: Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
*all pictures, Cesar Greco/Palmeiras