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Yesterday, both São Paulo FC and Corinthians were eliminated from the Brazil Cup – the latter by Internacional of Porto Alegre, who today drew Palmeiras as opponent in the group of 16. First leg at the Allianz Parque in mid-May, second at the Beira Rio a week or two later. The dates mark Palmeiras’ entry into the tournament.

Right-defender Lucas Taylor is back at Palmeiras after having spent 2016 at Paraná and Criciúma, before playing the 2017 São Paulo championship for Red Bull. Palmeiras have kept a steady eye on the 22-year-old, raised at the club’s youth divisions. By the looks if it, Taylor has evolved enough to render him a space in the squad.

U17Speaking of the youth divisions, Palmeiras’ U17 and U18 both recently came out victorious from two international tournaments. The U17 bagged the Scopigno Cup, in Italy, beating Dynamo Kiev 2-0 in the final. Palmeiras midfielder Alan was elected best player of the tournament, Daniel was top scorer (4) and Artur Itiro was elected best coach. The other teams in the Scopigno tournament were Pescara, Rieti, Lazio, Cagliari, Zenit, Ternara, Teramo and L’Aquila.

U18Almost simultaneously, the Palmeiras U18 beat Croatian HNK Rijeka 2-1 to lift the Bellinzona trophy in Switzerland; an impressive feat by Palmeiras, as half of the U18 squad stayed in Brazil to compete in the U20 Brazil Cup. Defensive midfielder Matheus Neris was elected best player of the tournament. This was the third time Palmeiras won the Bellinzona tournament (2007 and 2016). Other teams included Grasshopper, Honved Budapest, Brøndby and Inter Milan.

In the last couple of weeks, Palmeiras extended the contract of three players in the youth divisions: aforementioned Matheus Neris (18) and Patrick (17) – both midfielders – and centre-back Fabrício (17). All three are now on contracts until end of 2018 and will play for Palmeiras U20.

Palmeiras have also announced the signing of forward Yan, from Vitória. The arrival of the promising 18-year-old is part of the arrangement that sealed Cleiton Xavier’s transfer from Palmeiras to Vitória at the beginning of the year. Yan comes as a loan until 31 January 2018, Palmeiras having the option to buy. Yan drew attention in 2015 as top scorer in Vitória’s successful U17 Brazil Cup campaign. He has also played for Brazil in youth competitions.

In addition to the aforementioned players, Palmeiras have strengthened the youth divisions with Chilean centre-back Diego González (from O’Higgins), midfielder Gabriel Menino (Guarani) and, from Paraná, centre-back Willian Galvão and defensive midfielder Gabriel Furtado.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras this morning signed 23-year-old defender Luan, from Rio de Janeiro club Vasco da Gama, on a five-year contract, the price tag coming in at R$ 10 million (US$ 3.2 million) for 60% of the player’s economic rights. While getting to know his new club’s training facilities, the 1.88m tall 2016 Olympic champion did not disguise his enthusiasm. “I’m so happy, this is a dream coming true. I am very motivated, I want to help Palmeiras and I want to evolve here at the club. I’m arriving with an open heart, a focused mind, on fire and crazy to play, to make the supporters happy”.

The newcomer, born in the city of Vitória, played with Fernando Prass at Vasco and considers Palmeiras’ keeper a fathers figure to him. “I was 18 when I turned professional, and he always passed on advice, helping me a lot.” Luan also admitted to having called Gabriel Jesus just a few days back: “I had no doubts really, and after Gabriel told me ‘Go, you’ll be very happy at Palmeiras’ I could nothing but sign”, he laughs.

Do Palmeiras need another defender? Yes, absolutely. Yerry Mina leaves for Barcelona after the 2018 World Cup, Vitor Hugo is likely to transfer to Europe in the next window, Edu Dracena is already 35 and Thiago Martins will stay in the medical department for at least five more months. Antônio Carlos and Luan is our future centre-lock. Palmeiras are ahead in the planning, already preparing the squad for the 2018 season.

Welcome, Luan: may you shine brightly at Palmeiras!
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Toward the end of the month, we´ll have two rounds of qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup. All in all, four Palmeiras players have been called up to defend their countries: Yerry Mina and Miguel Borja for Colombia, Alejandro Guerra for Venezuela and Dudu for Brazil.
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Dudu received the call later than the rest: Douglas Costa suffered a knee injury during training at Bayern München last Friday, and coach Tite picked Dudu as the replacement. This is the striker’s third time in the yellow shirt: his first appearance was under Mano Menezes, in 2011. Then a long break, before Tite called him up in January of this year. However, all previous occasions have been friendly games. Finally facing the “real deal”, Dudu is in ecstasy. Well deserved!

Brazil plays Uruguay away on the 23rd and Paraguay at home on the 28th. Palmeiras’ quartet will miss the last three group-stage rounds of the São Paulo championship: another involuntary test of the squad’s quality and resilience. Also, another proof of the incapacity of Brazilian football federations to set up a decent calendar throughout the year.

Good luck to the four: may they all return safe and sound to Palmeiras.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte and the club’s director of football Alexandre Mattos have spent days in Barcelona, working on an agreement with the Catalan club regarding centre-back Yerry Mina. Today, it was formally announced that Barcelona have agreed to extend their priority of buying Mina by a year, more precisely after the 2018 World Cup. The previous deadline was July 2017, smack in the middle of the Brazilian championship and the Libertadores Cup. Being able to keep the Colombian national throughout the season and more is excellent news for Palmeiras.

Yerry Mina arrived at the Verdão in May of 2016, after a dispute involving high-ranking teams in Europe. At the time, Mattos knew he could not compete with salary offers arriving from Germany, but he also knew Barcelona were monitoring Mina, likely to try a signing in one or two years’ time. Mattos contacted Barcelona, got the thumbs up, and then had Barcelona’s director of football call Mina up: “If you one day want to play for Barcelona, you must first head for our partner, head for a club we trust, and that is Palmeiras”.

In addition to the dealings involving the Colombian defender, Galiotte and Mattos advanced with negotiations aimed at a formal partnership between Palmeiras and Barcelona. Methodology of work, exchange programmes for coaches and youth division players were among the topics discussed. Stay tuned for further developments of this very promising alliance.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu flanked by Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte (right) and director of football Alexandre Mattos (left), with Barcelona vice-presidents Javier Bordas (far right) and Jordi Cardoner (far left).

 

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Borja officially confirmed

On the 9th of February, the 9 times Brazilian champion reached an agreement with the club’s new #9, Miguel Ángel Borja.

Five year contract, US$ 10.5 million for 70% of the player’s economic rights, salary roughly US$ 1.2 million/year. Release fee at € 60 million.

Adversaries, quiver to the bone.
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lease fee

Sunday Palmeiras made their debut in the Paulistão, beating Botafogo/SP by the odd goal, signed Tchê Tchê. It was not a good game, as they never are in the beginning of the season. Still, one could note some differences in the marking, in the more careful ball possession, in the movement of full-backs. Eduardo Baptista is implementing his own style of play, and it will differ considerable from Cuca’s. Upcoming Sunday, away against Ituano, we have another opportunity to observe the transformation.

Tchê Tchê not only scored Sunday’s winner, but also suffered a small fracture to his left shoulder and is out for 4-6 weeks. Good thing Moisés seems fully recovered from the foot surgery and is training well.

Against Botafogo/SP, Zé Roberto played his 100th game in the Palmeiras jersey. Upcoming Sunday, it is Fernando Prass’ turn to celebrate his 200th appearance in green. Giants, both of them.

Speaking of giants: our “little giant” Dudu has extended his contract with Palmeiras for an additional two years, the contract now running until end of 2020. With the extension, his salary has increased and also the release fee.

You will frequently hear both club president Galiotte and director of football Mattos state that “more important than any signing, has been maintaining the squad intact”. One of the few remaining weaker cards from last years’ squad, defensive midfielder Rodrigo, was today announced by Sport on a one-year loan with an option to buy. However, in relation to key players, Palmeiras have made an additional effort, just like with Dudu: a total of six players, including Yerry Mina, have extended their contracts. The hiked release fees work as a deterrent for other clubs, while salary increases are both a recognition of a player’s value and a means to keep him happy as new signings arrive and the inevitable salary comparisons happen.

Today, the Palmeiras squad contains eight players who have served Brazil’s national (Jean, Vitor Hugo, Dracena, Arouca, Zé Roberto, Felipe Melo, Michel Bastos and Dudu); two Colombia’s (Yerry Mina and soon-to-be-announced Miguel Borja), one Paraguay’s (Barrios) and one Venezuela’s (Alejandro Guerra). That is twelve players of National squad quality, twelve!

The squad is not only qualified but also decent-sized, which is important considering the potentially many games and the long travel distances involved in Palmeiras’ 2017 campaign. If Palmeiras were to reach the finals in every competition, a staggering 80 games would be played in the season: São Paulo Championship (18), Libertadores Cup (14), Brazil Cup (8), Brazilian Championship (38), Club World Cup (2).

Now stay tuned for the official announcement of Miguel Borja.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Although officially consistently denied by Palmeiras, a deal has been cooking since November. Atlético Nacional naturally want as much as possible for their star striker, but the insistence on too high a price resulted in the European transfer window closing without any serious option on the table. Big dollars are also available in China, but Borja is young and hungry and not at all keen on a move to Asia. Palmeiras’ director of football Alexandre Mattos seems to have played his hand well.

What additionally has tipped the scale in Palmeiras’ favour is Borja’s own wish: in a fresh-off-the-presses interview for a Brazilian newspaper, he admits having swapped messages with former teammate Alejandro Guerra and fellow compatriot Yerry Mina about Palmeiras and liked what he heard. He also mentioned the feverish Palmeiras supporters and that he had received many encouraging messages through social media, already feeling welcome at the club. And then, a rather bombastic statement from the recently turned 24-year-old: “My family has already packed the bags for Brazil. I expect a decision to be reached by tomorrow or the day after”.

Word is Palmeiras are paying US$ 12 million for 50%-70% of the player’s economic rights.

Tomorrow, Palmeiras and Crefisa are holding a press conference to announce a two-year renovation of the sponsorship partnership. Expect numbers rarely, if ever, seen in Brazilian football: approximately R$100 million per year (US$ 32 million) with bonuses for titles won. Considering recent developments, I would say there is a fair chance the sponsorship renovation be not the sole topic on the agenda.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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