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Although still in what almost could be considered pre-season (were it not for the Libertadores Cup), things are starting to get serious. Palmeiras already know what awaits in the quarter-finals of the São Paulo Championship: Novorizontino, who yesterday beat Santos 2-1 to secure their spot.

Today’s penultimate game for Palmeiras in the group stage of the Paulistão has a special flavour: the 100th game at the Allianz Parque, and against arch-enemy São Paulo FC. 32 thousand tickets had been sold by yesterday evening. If Roger Machado wants some peace and tranquillity, he’d better make sure Palmeiras turn out a convincing performance tonight, erasing the perception of a stale and uninterested squad of last few rounds.

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A brief update on players currently in the Medical department:

Edu Dracena has not yet made his debut in 2018. On a specially tailored programme in order to reduce muscular injuries throughout the season, the 36-year-old felt discomfort to the hip last week during training. With nothing but a minor inflammation to a tendon, Dracena should be at Roger’ disposal by next week.

Deyverson suffered an almost identical injury to that of Neymar, in the fifth metatarsal of the right foot, and underwent surgery. The forward is in his sixth week of recovery, with another expected two weeks before ready to initiate physical reconditioning on the pitch.

Diogo Barbosa seriously twisted his ankle in mid-January, during a pre-season friendly game. The left-defender is clinically cured, but not yet ready to play, as he lost considerable muscle mass due to the period of immobilization. In the coming days he’ll start training on the pitch.

Mayke twisted his right ankle during a training session last week, suffering a ligament injury. He will not need surgery, but with recovery expected to take between four to six weeks, he has been cut from the São Paulo Championship roster.

Jean went under the knife on 11 January, in an effort to minimize effects of wear and tear to the cartilage of his right knee. He is about to complete two months of treatment, with the recovery period ranging from three to four months, effectively keeping him out of the Paulistão and also (at least the first stage of) the Libertadores Cup.

Artur operated his right ankle on 16 February. The young forward initiated physiotherapy this week and should be recovered in little more than a month.

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While on the topic of players: forward Dudu has extended his contract with another two years, now valid until end of 2022. Earlier this year, the 26-year-old turned down a very lucrative offer from China. With the extension cames a salary adjustment, as well as a bumped up early termination fee.

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A whopping six (6) Palmeiras players have been called up for the Brazilian U16 squad to compete in the upcoming Montaigu tournament in France. In addition, striker Fabrício was called up for the U17 squad, playing two friendlies against England at the end of the month.

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Rounding things off with a sight for sore eyes: Phil Collins and Foo Fighters recently did sold-out gigs at the Allianz Parque and, of course, received Palmeiras jerseys up front. Just one more reason for becoming a superstar.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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Palmeiras’ Colombian centre-defender Yerry Mina is joining Barcelona. This was expected, although the transfer was scheduled for post World Cup. The anticipation costs the Catalan club an additional €3.3 million, raising the total price to €12.3 million: €11.8 million for the economic rights (€10 million going to Palmeiras and €1.8 million to Santa Fe) and €590.000, corresponding to 5% of the transfer value, to be divided between Deportivo Pasto, Santa Fe and Palmeiras – all clubs Mina has played for.

The price tag might seem low, but one should remember that Mina only arrived at Palmeiras because Director of Football Alexandre Mattos convinced the defender not to go to Germany, after having reached an understanding with Barcelona whereby Palmeiras would groom the player for a couple of seasons before handing him over at a pre-defined price of €9 million. At the time, signing Mina set Palmeiras back some €3 million. Palmeiras are now looking at approximately €7 million in net revenues.

Yerry Mina rapidly bonded with club and supporters and was instrumental in Palmeiras’ 2016 Brazilian Championship title. After a total of 48 games and 9 goals in the green jersey, the tremendously dedicated 23-year-old has all the tools to conquer the World.

Thank you and the best of luck in your new endeavor, Mina!
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Yerry-Mina

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Following a handful of punctual signings in the last weeks, Palmeiras now consider the 2018 squad assembled. The five reinforcements address the primary shortcomings identified throughout the 2017 season and any other players – such as Ricardo Goulart or Gustavo Scarpa – will only be considered in the case of particularly interesting opportunities materialising.

On the five newcomers:

Weverton, Olympic gold medalist, will battle with veterans Fernando Prass and Jailson for a spot in the starting eleven. The 30-year-old keeper played the last six seasons for Atlético Paranaense.

rocha_croppedMarcos Rocha, the most recent newcomer, takes over the right flank, the 29-year-old arriving from Atlético Mineiro on a one-year loan swap involving Roger Guedes. Libertadores and Brazil Cup champion, Rocha also has a couple of Brazil caps on his CV. He comes with a fixed price should Palmeiras wish to keep him beyond 2018.

Diogo Barbosa had a great year at Cruzeiro and arrives to solve Palmeiras’ problems on the left flank. The 25-year-old had lucrative offers from abroad – Ajax in particular – but opted for the Verdão. In exchange for one if not the best left-defender currently active in Brazilian football, Cruzeiro sees the return of Egídio.  

Lucas Lima was brought in from Santos to overcome Palmeiras’ offensively rather stale midfield, in spite of names like Alejandro Guerra and Raphael Veiga in the squad. Moisés was frequently designated with the task, although not comfortable with the playmaker role, as he is much more a box-to-box midfielder. Lima, if motivated, is a heck of a player.

Emerson Santos is but 22 years old and was Palmeiras’ first signing designated for the upcoming season. Previously at Botafogo, the centre-back has plenty of potential but is not expected to grab a spot in the starting eleven quite yet.

In addition to the aforementioned recently signed, Thiago Martins, Victor Luis, Allione and Artur return to Palmeiras after having spent the year at other clubs. Maybe not all of these are expected to remain at Palmeiras in 2018, but will be observed by coach Roger Machado during the initial months.

Machado has been fully involved in assembling the 2018 squad, picking arrivals and deciding which players to do without. Several top players have been brought in, but not much money has been spent – thanks to Alexandre Mattos reaching new levels of efficiency. In addition, unlike previous years, the squad resumes activities on 3 January without any pending issues – an important ingredient in the recipe for success.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras’ penultimate game this season was also Zé Roberto’s last, the 43-year-old midfielder a few days earlier having announced his retirement from professional football. Naturally, the chosen stage was the Allianz Parque, with Botafogo co-starring and correctly suffering a 2-0 defeat, goals by Dudu and Keno (really worth checking out, highlights below). The result propelled Palmeiras into second place.
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Zé Roberto’s career has been extraordinary. 961 club football games for Bayern Munchen, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburg, Grêmio, Flamengo, Santos, Portuguesa, Al-Gharafa and, of course, Palmeiras. In addition, 84 caps for Brazil.

At Palmeiras, he played 133 games as midfielder, sometimes as left defender, and scored 10 goals. He was instrumental in the 2015 Brazil Cup title and the 2016 Brazilian Championship title, exercising supreme leadership on and, in particular, off the pitch. His personal determination to contribute to the elevation of Palmeiras’ grandeur and self-esteem to that of previous glorious decades was surprising, touching and very necessary: like few others, Zé Roberto in a short time fully understood and incorporated Palmeiras into his very self, and in the most professional of ways. Mind you, Zé Roberto is oldest player to pull on our jersey and the oldest to score for Palmeiras. The oldest to score in a Libertadores game and the second oldest to ever have participated in the tournament.

His farewell at the stadium was emotional and worthy. Today, he summed up his life until now with the words “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have remained faithful. And I have left a legacy.” Indeed you have, Zé Roberto. Indeed you have. Thank you!
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Upcoming Sunday, against Atlético Paranaense, Alberto Valentin commands the men one last time. Closely observed by Roger Machado, who no doubt is contemplating the squad’s strengths and weaknesses and how he in 2018 will make the best out of Lucas Lima’s arrival.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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UPDATE: Zé Roberto will be Technical Advisor at Palmeiras as of January 2018. In his new role he will work alongside director of football Alexandre Mattos and his aid Cícero Souza on a number of administrative functions. More importantly, Zé Roberto will also have direct contact with players and coaching staff, facilitating their interaction with the management and vice versa. Alexandre Mattos considers this an important function, much used in European clubs but practically unheard of in Brazil (at the announcement, he gave but one reference: Tinga at Cruzeiro).

This is excellent news. Much good could potentially generate from this arrangement. Congratulations to everyone involved!

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Palmeiras have announced the signing of Cruzeiro’s left-back Diogo Barbosa. The 25-year-old is Palmeiras’ second confirmed reinforcement for the 2018 season, Botafogo centre-back Emerson Santos being the first, signed already in August.

An early talent, Barbosa played for Vasco da Gama at the tender age of 18, but buckled under pressure. For a number of years he proceeded his career in smaller first and second division teams before returning to Rio de Janeiro in 2016 to play for Botafogo. Much more seasoned, he had a great year and caught the eye of the mineiros, who signed him at the end of the season. At Cruzeiro he continued his upward trajectory, crowned by decisive performances that culminated in the 2017 Brazil Cup title.
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Barbosa is strong in both offense and defence and currently considered one of the most regular wingers in Brazilian football. He will certainly go straight into Palmeiras’ starting eleven, especially as Egídio is on his way out (back to Cruzeiro, apparently) and Zé Roberto retiring. Other competitors for the position include returning Victor Luis (on loan at Botafogo until the end of the season), midfielder Michel Bastos and centre-back Juninho.

Palmeiras are paying Cruzeiro €1.5 million for 25% of the economic rights of the athlete. The remaining 75% are with an investment bank and can be purchased by Palmeiras at a later stage. A few days ago, a financially more advantegous offer for the player was made by Dutch club Ajax, but Barbosa had already made up his mind. Good choice.

Not that Cruzeiro wanted Barbosa gone… Truth is, the club’s finances are in a bad shape and they simply had to release him. Raposa supporters could be happier.  

Welcome and best of luck, Diogo!

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After yesterday having his picture snapped wearing a Palmeiras jersey underneath the Brazilian National Team polo, Neymar frankly admitted he one day would like to play for the Verdão.

“Already as a small kid, I was Palmeiras. My idols were Evair, Marcos, Rivaldo, Alex… These are the guys I looked up to. I became a palmeirense because of them.”
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Neymar and the rest of the National squad today trained at Palmeiras’ Football Academy ahead of Tuesdays World Cup qualifier against Chile at the Allianz Parque.

“Nobody knows about tomorrow, but it would be a great pleasure (to play for Palmeiras)”, the Paris Saint-Germain forward concluded.

Lucas LimaDirector of Football Alexandre Mattos today met with Neymar’s father, but Neymar is not transferring to Palmeiras (quite yet). Now, there is a decent chance playmaker Lucas Lima, currently at Santos, pulls on the green kit next season. So happens, Neymar Senior is Lima’s agent… Stay tuned.  

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Atlético Mineiro 1-1 Palmeiras
Cuca used the two weeks to tweak defence and midfield creativity. Yesterday’s first test against Atlético Mineiro was an interesting albeit frustrating experience:  individual errors and a biased referee saw two Palmeiras players – Luan and Willian – sent off, not permitting the game to evolve organically. Still, the end result and, in particular, the way Palmeiras occupied spaces and to a certain extent controlled the game at the Estádio Independência – even one and later two men short – are good indicators the team has evolved. How much, possibly we will learn more about on Monday the 18th, when Palmeiras receive Coritiba.

Monday, Palmeiras are issuing a formal protest against Leandro Vuaden. On two occasions, both crucial, he failed to do the right thing: award a penalty for Palmeiras as a shot was blocked with open arms, and have a converted Atlético penalty go repeat after an Atlético player grossly invaded the penalty box. In addition, criteria for distribution of yellow and red cards were inexistent throughout the game.  
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Is there anything left for palmeirenses to enjoy this year? Sure. The Libertadores Cup spot needs securing. And seriously… Palmeiras are 14 points behind Corinthians, but the skunks have lost three out of last four games, with 15 rounds to go. Then there is the deliciousness of São Paulo FC’s desperate battle against relegation…

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Felipe Melo has been reintegrated into the squad. Not meaning Cuca will take advantage of the new-old addition. During an unfortunate press conference, the loose cannon was allowed to take centre stage and the habitual stream of bombastic bull followed. Just for starters, Melo alleged categorically not having apologized to Cuca… I expect Melo to train with the squad and, occasionally, make it to the bench. And negotiated as soon as an opportunity arises.

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Palmeiras’ youth divisions are doing well. Three athletes – midfielder Alan, centre-back Vitão and left-back Luan – have been selected for Brazil’s U17 squad playing the World Cup in India 6-28 October.

So far this year, 15 Palmeiras players have represented Brazil in one of the youth categories: nine in the Brazil U15 (keepers Mateus and Bruno Carcaioli, centre-backs Henri and Renan, defender Garcia, midfielders Fabinho and Gabriel Silva and forwards Vinicius and Gabriel Veron), another five in the U17 team (defenders Lucas Rosa and Luan Cândido, centre-back Vitão and midfielders Alan and Bruno Tattavito) and forward Léo Passos for the U20. Promising for the future.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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