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Palmeiras’ premature exit from the Brazil Cup and Libertadores Cup will not have an immediate impact on the squad, which is good. With the exception of Felipe Melo, no one is leaving. Palmeiras and Melo are seeking a amicable settlement; the quicker things are resolved the better. 

mina_castNow, the medical department is having busy days. Against Barcelona, Mina, Dudu and Jaílson were injured. The latter two should be out for another three weeks, while Mina is looking at three months due to a broken toe. “I’ll come back, stronger than ever” he stated yesterday, posing with his cast.

Mayke, Willian, Thiago Martins and Juninho are all in the final phases of transition and are likely available on Sunday, at home, against Chapecoense. Also Guerra and Moisés should be fit for fight.

Then there is Arouca. After two surgical procedures early in the year, removing cartilage from his right ankle, the defensive midfielder is reaching the end of a long recovery period. Still, he has a few more weeks to go and there are doubts if he will make a strong enough impression to secure a spot in next year’s squad, which Mattos and Cuca certainly are already moulding in their heads.

Goalkeeper Fernando Prass is negotiating his extension, and so is left-back Egídio. There are a bit of mixed feelings related to both these negotiations.

Rounding off with a piece of unconfirmed news that Palmeiras have signed Botafogo centre-back Emerson Santos. Corinthians had a deal almost sealed but were apparently beaten on the finishing line. Emerson is to arrive in January of next year. More info to follow.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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On Friday, ahead of Saturday’s game against Avaí, coach Cuca told the squad Felipe Melo would not be in the starting eleven nor on the bench. On Saturday night, after a convincing 2-0 against the team from Florianópolis, Cuca laid it out to the press: Felipe Melo will not proceed at Palmeiras.

Melo is an ambitious and strong-headed individual, never comfortable with the bench. Cuca does not see Melo’s playing style as ideal while seeking to emulate the characteristics of the 2016 team: speed, quick transitions, advanced positions paired with aggressive marking of the opponent. This was discussed with the player and mutual consent was reached: better part ways. Simple as that.
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With his extremely outspoken and self-promoting personality, Felipe Melo has divided opinions among palmeirenses. Personally, I have no problem with him leaving. I see better options in Bruno Henrique and Thiago Santos, paired with Moisés’ emminent return. Palmeiras are paying the price for a rather turbulent first six months, Cuca’s absence and subsequent return the pivoting factor. At this point, Cuca needs full backing to catch up for time lost, within limits reshape the squad and find that playing style he so much envisions. Anything not part of the solution is part of the problem. 

Melo has played only five games so far in the Brasileirão, he has not reached the limit that would prevent him from defending another first division team this season. There are however no indications at this point regarding his future: possibly, he will remain at Palmeiras for a few weeks, training in separate, while things are being solved. His contract with Palmeiras formally ends in December of 2019.

During his seven months at Palmeiras, Melo played 27 games and scored twice. Although his passage was brief, he certainly left his mark, always defending the club with blood and sweat.

Anything Palmeiras wishes Melo good luck in his future endeavours.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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UPDATE, 1/8/2017 – 12:55

We learnt today from Palmeiras’ director of football Alexandre Mattos that removing Felipe Melo from the squad was far from solely based on technical/tactical concerns. A number of incidents involving Melo had occurred previously, but had been dealt with internally. After Wednesday’s elimination from the Brazil Cup, Melo’s disrespectful attitude in the locker room reached new heights. As the news of the occurrence reached Palmeiras’ directors, they decided to remove Melo, having previously consulted Cuca regarding the possible impacts on the field.

Melo was formally communicated on Friday morning. On Friday afternoon, the player apologised to Cuca, club president Galiotte and the squad.

Any possibility of reconciliation was effectively torpedoed yesterday night: in a leaked audio, recorded Sunday night, Melo launches a personal attack on Cuca, in addition to voicing his wish to play somewhere else.

Melo will train separated from the rest of the squad, awaiting interesting offers. Mattos stated there are none on the table at the moment.

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Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte spent his Monday at F.C. Barcelona, further straitening cooperation between the clubs. Topics on the table included the exchange of junior players and the swapping of know-how on logistics and marketing.

The good relations leading to the arrangements involving first Yerry Mina and, more recently, Vitinho, are well known. However, last Friday, Palmeiras’ director of football Alexandre Mattos let us in on yet another aspect of the partnership: Barcelona vouching for Palmeiras’ seriousness vis-à-vis third parties.

Levante, the holder of forward Deyverson’s federative rights, were hesitant when approached by Palmeiras, having heard numerous discouraging stories regarding Brazilian clubs. Levante sought Barcelona’s advice and were told not to worry. Negotiations proceeded and were successfully concluded the other day, with Deyverson signing a five-year contract with Palmeiras.

“Tell me who you go with and I’ll tell you who you are”. Palmeiras lining up with the best.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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After defeating Grêmio 1-0 last Saturday, Sunday was all about resting. Today Monday, only a light training session in the morning before heading off to Ecuador, where Barcelona de Guayaquil await on Wednesday. The Libertadores matchup for the group of 16 is illustrated below, with the second leg taking place in a month’s time.
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Ten days ago, CONMEBOL announced they were changing the rules regarding how many players a team could swap in their Libertadores squad – funny enough only hours after River Plate saw seven of their players fail a doping test. At the wave of a wand, the limit went from two to six players. Palmeiras today swapped four: Bruno Henrique, Juninho, Luan and Mayke replaced Rafael Marques, Vitor Hugo, Vitão (only still at Palmeiras) and Alecsandro.

The additional two swaps Palmeiras can (and certainly will) do up to 48 hours ahead of the second leg. One spot is dedicated to Moisés, who is in the final stages of recovery from his knee surgery. The last spot will probably go to a forward in Mattos’ crosshairs. Could be Diego Souza, currently at Sport. Before the weekend, we will know.

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Palmeiras appealed and CONMEBAL revised the absurd rulings following the debacle in Montevideo: Felipe Melo’s ban has dropped from six to three games, and the three-game ban on Palmeiras supporters during away games has been reduced to one game (which will be the one against Barcelona on Wednesday).

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Alberto Valentim is back at Palmeiras as assisting coach, after a brief spell at Red Bull. He left Palmeiras in December of last year, after it became clear he was not taking over after Cuca’s exit. Everyone celebrated his return, although Valentim himself recognises he is taking a step back in order to advance two steps in the future.

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Someone on the verge of taking a major step is 19-year-old attacking midfielder Vitinho. Seems Barcelona are close to finalising a loan move with an option to buy. Cuca has publicly given his approval: “Good for the player and the club if he goes to Barcelona B. He’s training well but, unfortunately, he can’t get the necessary minutes with us. At the moment, he needs to play”, Palmeiras’ coach recently stated.

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English football magazine “World Soccer” annually lists their Top 500 in the World, and the 2017 edition sports six Palmeiras players, more than any other Brazilian club: Felipe Melo, Dudu, Borja, Guerra, Mina and Tchê Tchê.

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Saturday, the Allianz Parque hosted Ariana Grande. Already on Sunday, pictures showed the stadium in shape to receive a game, with the pitch apparently intact. For the first time, stadium management had used a technique to anchor the stage not on the ground but using the ceiling, resulting in considerably less strain on the pitch and much shorter disassembling time. Not a day too early.

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The Allianz Parque, as first stadium in Brazil, has received the “Guiaderodas” seal of approval. The seal is given to venues that has proven fully accessible to wheelchair users and people with other physical disabilities. Unlike the old Palestra, the Allianz Parque was designed with full accessibility in mind from the start: parking lots, stands, restrooms, snack bars… There are 15 elevators and 26 escalators, and staff have been given specific training to meet the needs of disabled visitors.

As palmeirense wheelchair user Renan Barreiros commented: excellent news; will be even better once Palmeiras implement mechanisms that assure only disabled persons are able to reserve the specially designated seats at the stadium, as well as secure the same discounts that non-disabled, enrolled in Palmeiras’ supporter membership programme, enjoy for certain sectors. Seems Palmeiras are working on solutions; this is something worth keeping an eye on.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Hours ago, defensive midfielder Bruno Henrique Corsini on social media announced his transfer to Palmeiras.

“Yo, palmeirenses, what’s up? I’m arriving to be champion with you. I’m very happy for this”, Bruno Henrique says in a short video clip, before signing off with a “Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra. Avanti Palestra!”. The four-year contract with Palmeiras comes at a €3.5 million price tag.

bruno_henrique_corsiniBruno Henrique has dual citizenship: Brazilian and Italian. In 2016, he transferred to Italian side Palermo after having participated in Corinthians’ victorious 2015 Brasileirão campaign. A regular for the Sicilian team, he made 33 appearances last season, scoring one goal.

At Palmeiras, the 27-year-old will face competition primarily from Felipe Melo, Thiago Santos and Tchê Tchê. His arrival is well timed: Melo yesterday underwent hand surgery and is out for 2-4 weeks, Tchê Tchê is currently far from last year’s peak performance and Thiago Santos gets booked frequently.

Welcome (home) and best of luck, Corsini!

 

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A well-conducted transfer if you ever saw one. Yesterday, centre-back Vitor Hugo held his last press conference (for now) at Palmeiras, before moving to Europe and Fiorentina. The Italians had been eying the 26-year-old for some time, but Palmeiras managed to hang on to the player, a central piece of the 2016 champion squad. In total, Vitor Hugo played 131 games for Palmeiras, finding the net 13 times – one short to make the club’s top 10 list for scoring centre-backs.

With the aid of sponsor/partner Crefisa, Vitor Hugo was brought to Palmeiras from second division side América Mineiro in 2015 for €1.5 million for 50% of his economic rights. Now sold to Fiorentina for €8 million, Crefisa recovers the initial €1.5 million, with the remaining being split between Palmeiras and other stakeholders – a neat little revenue indeed.

Crefisa actually chose not to cash in, but to redeploy the €1.5 million into the acquisition of promising 22-year-old centre-back Juninho, from Coritiba. Prior to Juninho, Crefisa also helped in the acquisition of Luan, the 24-year-old Olympic gold medallist, previously at Vasco da Gama. Palmeiras’ medium to long-term planning is clear: Vitor Hugo just left, Edu Dracena might retire in a year or two and Yerry Mina will move to Europe after the 2018 World Cup. In their place, we have Antônio Carlos (24), Thiago Martins (22), Luan (24) and Juninho (22).

Anything Palmeiras wishes Vitor Hugo the best of luck overseas: this talented, hard-working and charismatic lad deserves it like few others!

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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With five rounds of the Brasileirão, Palmeiras have already filled half of last year’s quota of defeats. Hovering just above the relegation zone with four points – a full nine points behind the leader – some palmeirenses are already throwing the towel. Might seem absurd, considering only 13% of the championship has been played, but indeed a recovery must come strong and immediately should Palmeiras stand a chance. Not much hope in that direction though, rather on the contrary: Cuca is using the Brasileirão to try out formation and rotate the numerous squad, certainly with the chancellery of the club’s directors. The priority seems to be the Brazil Cup and the Libertadores Cup.

Under normal circumstances, nothing would justify abandoning the Brasileirão this early. Nevertheless, swapping Baptista for Cuca, combined with a full two-games-a-week schedule – including decisive games in both aforementioned cups – have created serious restrains on Cuca’s possibilities to train and shape the squad to his liking. Libertadores enters the knockout stage in a months’ time, so Cuca uses the Brasileirão as his laboratory.

Against Coritiba, Cuca again presented a mixed bag due to injuries, fatigue and national squad absentees. Only four regular starting-eleven players in the line-up: Prass, Tchê, Felipe Melo and Willian. Nevertheless Palmeiras came out flying, the first ten minutes looking very promising, with Keno again drawing most of the attention. The game however quickly levelled, with all he action concentrating to the midfield.

Early in the second half, Coritiba found the net and Palmeiras suddenly lost all confidence and initiative, the level dropping vertically both collectively and individually. Tchê Tchê has not played well for weeks, but yesterday was exceptionally bad even by his recent standards. Michel Bastos, Keno, Guedes… No shimmer of light anywhere. And Fernando Prass… Perhaps a few games on the bench would do him good, letting Jailson have a go between the posts.
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Cuca is not being eaten alive exactly because he is Cuca and has plenty of credit due to last year’s campaign. Most supporters feel confident he will get it right in the end, but for that to happen he must react, rattle the squad into position, find ways to extract quality from all those good to excellent players. He has a few weeks before things get really serious.

Players taking flak, Cuca taking flak. But not only these. Increasingly, Palmeiras football director Alexandro Mattos is feeling the heat. Elected four years in a row Brazil’s most successful football director will not guarantee you anything, especially not at Palmeiras: the seedy and influential consiglieri – kept low during the Paulo Nobre years – have reflourished with surprising vigour. Mattos’ success stings in the eyes of those who used to call the cards at Palmeiras at the beginning of the decade. With meritocracy being challenged, we are one step closer to the pre-Nobre abyss. Add to that the now constant leaking of inside information to the press and the dramatic increase of hang-arounds, and you perceive some fundamentally important things have changed.  

There is this Brazilian expression, “I was happy but didn’t know it”. Some of us knew. Some of us recognized the enormous effort and saw the bigger picture in what Nobre was implementing. Let us hope it did not stop there.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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