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Last week, Palmeiras defined the future of centre-back Juninho and attacking midfielder Michel Bastos, none of these in coach Machado’s plans for the remainder of the season. Juninho’s destination is Atlético Mineiro (same as recent Palmeiras players Arouca, Erik and Róger Guedes), while Michel Bastos heads to Recife to pull on the Sport jersey. Both players go on loan deals until December. Juninho has a long contract with the Verdão, until April 2022, and might possibly return to the club. We should however not see more of Michel Bastos, as his contract with the Verdão expires by the end of the year.

With the departure of Juninho, Machado’s options for centre lock are Edu Dracena, Antônio Carlos, Luan, Thiago Martins, Pedrão and Emerson Santos. Michel Bastos battled for position against Dudu, Keno, Willian and Artur.

Moisés was in Machado’s starting eleven last Sunday against Atlético Paranaense, but came off already after six minutes, feeling the back of his right thigh. Yesterday, the grade 2 muscle injury was confirmed, leaving the midfielder out of combat for 4-6 weeks. No need to rush things: Moisés will have plenty of time for rehab during the World Cup.

On a more positive note, Guerra is back in full form and available for tomorrow’s Brazil Cup game against América Mineiro. Also Jean should be at Machado’s disposal any day now: the midfielder/right defender had surgery done to his right knee in January and recovery has been rather slow, but training has picked up well in the last few weeks.   

Against Alianza Lima and Atlético Paranaense, attacking midfielder Hyoran showed personality and development, the best indicators that Palmeiras’ patience with the kid should pay off. Some six kilos stronger, Hyoran has started to claim his space in the squad and is expected to become an ever more frequent piece in future starting-elevens.

Gustavo Scarpa‘s situation remains unsolved, all parties awaiting the court ruling regarding the validity of his rupture with Fluminense. Palmeiras president Galiotte has been in touch with the carioca team, expressing his readiness to facilitate things (e.g. compensate Fluminense financially), but so far, the situation seems locked. Curious how the otherwise so efficient Brazilian labour tribunal in this case moves so slowly: it’s been more than two months since Scarpa last set foot at Palmeiras, training on his own in Hortolândia, his home town.

— ooo —

Late March, Palmeiras unveiled the new home kit for the season. The club’s crest is back, instead of the antique “P”, and a red star has been included as a reference to the World Club Cup title of 1951. The overall design is very clean and to the liking of supporters.
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Yesterday, the new away kit was used for the first time and, according to reactions on social media, also this model was well received. Again, a clean, stylish design. Apparently, Adidas has been saving the best for last.
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Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Playing before 40.986 spectators, a new attendance record at the Allianz Parque, Palmeiras were Palmeiras like throughout most of 2016: confident, in control, sufficiently efficient to secure the three points against Chapecoense and the 2016 Brazil championship title. The only goal was right-back Fabiano’s, and what a beautiful goal. His first for Palmeiras, one that will be remembered forever.

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Who contributed the most to this title, arriving after 22 long years of waiting?

Jailson, the 35-year-old who had never played a first division game in his life and stepped up in August, when Fernando Prass was injured in late July, to support an 18-games-streak of invincibility?

Dudu, the hotheaded forward who matured after receiving the captain’s armband to become the player with most assists in this year’s edition of the Brasileirão?

Tchê-Tchê, who last year seriously considered abandoning football for the lack of opportunities, today a given on the midfield on any Palmeiras starting eleven?

Moisés, “hidden away” in Croatia, ridiculed upon arriving, today considered the greatest surprise of the championship?

Gabriel Jesus, who’s splendid first half of the championship set the pace for the title race?

Jean, the experienced, polyvalent, hard-working leader?

Yerry Mina, who went straight into the starting eleven, scored, was injured, came back to score more and form a massive centre lock with Vítor Hugo?

Zé Roberto, the living myth, at 42 the heart and soul of the squad, always reminding us of the GIANT called Palmeiras?

Cuca, the prophet, the professional, the father, who knows how to create a family not through external enemies but common aspirations?

Alexandre Mattos, the director of football who contracted all the aforementioned pieces and then some?

Paulo Nobre, the club president who in four years took Palmeiras from rags to riches?

Palmeirenses near and far, tirelessly reinventing the art of supporting the team, standing ground against everything and everyone, including friendly fire?

None. All. That is what is so special about this campaign: it is a truly collective effort like seldom seen. And unbelievably well deserved.
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celebration.
I still need to come down. Pictures and videos of the magnificent celebration – all over São Paulo and all over the world – only in a day or two.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Yesterday afternoon, Palmeiras successfully concluded negotiations with Chinese club Henan Jianye, purchasing forward Rafael Marques’ federative rights for US$ 800K, signing a two-year contract. The player was very relieved, having loudly and clearly expressed his desire to remain at Palmeiras, even giving up bonuses he was entitled to in order to facilitate the closing of the deal. He immediately packed his trunk and left for Itu – where the rest of the squad is training – making a surprise entry, provoking laughter and applause from his comrades.
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rafamarques
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Rafael had a very good first semester in 2015, then gradually lost space – and seemingly a bit of motivation – in the second semester. Charismatic and clearly identified with the club, I am pleased with the renewed contract, even though I do not see Rafael as fundamentally important on the pitch. He however tends to grow in decisive moments and is part of the family: the fact that Palmeiras went to lengths to keep him emits good vibrations.

jeanYesterday, early evening, Palmeiras also signed defensive midfielder Jean from Fluminense. The 29-year-old was speculated at different clubs throughout December and January, Fluminense trying to play hardball although holding only 10% of the player’s economic rights. Truth is Jean wanted Palmeiras. And got it.

The midfielder, who is comfortable also on the right flank, became Brazilian champion with São Paulo FC in 2008 and with Fluminense in 2012. He did six caps for Brazil in 2012 (under Mano Menezes) and 2013 (Luiz Felipe Scolari). He has signed a four-year contract with Palmeiras and is, rightfully so, considered quite a catch.

And with that, the Palmeiras squad is set for 2016. Eight new faces in total: Keeper Vagner, centre-backs Edu Dracena and Roger Carvalho, defensive midfielders Rodrigo and Jean, offensive midfielders Régis and Moisés, and striker Erik.

The squad currently holds 37 players, but only 30 can be registered for the Libertadores Cup and no more than 28 in the Paulistão. Expect the likes of Mouche, Cristaldo, Allione, Nathan and a few more to find new clubs – either on loan or permanently – within a month or two.

And before I forget it: good work, Alexandre Mattos and Cícero Souza!
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Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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