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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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Luan_signing

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Training intensifies as Palmeiras prepare for a decisive sequel of games against traditionally strong adversaries, starting with Fluminense away this Sunday, then São Paulo (H), Grêmio (A), Flamengo (H) and Corinthians (A). No better time for players to return from the medical department: defensive midfielders Arouca and Gabriel are recovered, as well as centre-back Yerry Mina. With Gabriel Jesus back from the Olympic Games, the squad is again nearly complete: Lucas Barrios will need another 10-14 days and, of course, there is Fernando Prass, out for the remainder of the year.

Fernando Prass this week kicked off his physiotherapy sessions. Although he is not defending Palmeiras on the pitch, his day-to-day presence at the club and during the games have been inspirational. Prass himself seems motivated enough, recognising the hard work that lies ahead but assuring he will return stronger and better than ever.
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2016 - Prass recovery.
Gabriel Jesus also seems focused, in spite of all the attention deriving from his spell at the Seleção. Still top scorer in the league, even after a sex games absence, yesterday Jesus stated that he loves the club and that it would be a dream to wrap up the season as Brasileirão champion. He assured he would not shy away from any situation on or off the pitch.

2016 - Luan at Atlético ParanaenseLuan, the one and only, has joined Atlético Paranaense for the remainder of the year. Palmeirenses hardly believed the announcement and now rejoice, intensively wishing for the forward’s success at Atlético. After all, the paranaenses might put in an offer by the end of the year, allowing Palmeiras to recover some of the loss.

Speaking of Atlético Paranaense: during the away game on 15 August, cameras caught an Atlético supporter directing a torrent of racist abuse toward Tchê Tchê. Palmeiras quickly issued a statement, in the strongest language condemning the act and supporting the player in whatever action he might chose to take. The Supreme Tribunal of Sports has been made aware of the crime. Tchê Tchê himself seems inclined to letting the whole thing go. From Atlético Paranaense, not a word.

tsunami_verde_logoTomorrow, 26 August, the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras celebrates its 102nd birthday. Anything Palmeiras urges each one of you, near or far, to pull on your favourite Palmeiras jersey and wear it with more than average pride on Friday: may this year’s Tsunami Verde be a rehearsal of another celebration due in a little less than four months’ time!

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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charles+oliveiraAfter two weeks of getting familiarised with the grim reality, Nobre and Co. are starting to take affirmative action also “where it counts”, as certainly a majority of supporters would feel: by strengthening the squad. With few options on the market, the swapping of Luan for two players from Cruzeiro is good news: defensive midfielders Charles (#28) and Marcelo Oliveira (#26) might not be stars, but neither is Luan, whos relation to Palmeiras’ supporters in addition had turned unsustainable. Both team are thus embarking on an experiment, with nothing to lose, as all contracts are based on loans until the end of the year. We are likely to see Marcelo Oliveira debuting already tomorrow against Atlético Sorocaba.

RonnyA third player – Ronieri “Ronny” da Silva Pinto, here pictured in the forefront – has been training with the squad for a week in the absence of a document from Europe, clearing him for play at Palmeiras. The playmaker was with Figueirense last season but in fact belongs to Estonian club FC Olimpi. Today, the document arrived, authorising the 21-year-old from Cuiabá to sign a contract for the remainder of 2013. Ronny is the bench option for Valdivia, but might actually be given a lot of play time considering the Chilean’s uncanny ability to get injured. Valdivia IS in fact injured: a muscular problem was detected after last Sunday’s 3-3 draw against XV de Piracicaba, taking him off the pitch for roughly two weeks (thus most likely removing him from Palmeiras’ first game in this year’s edition of the Copa Libertadores, against Peruvian Sporting Cristal).

KleberIn addition to the above, all seems ready for the announcement of Kleber. The 22-year-old Porto striker today passed medical exams and should tomorrow sign a one-year contract with the Verdão. A player of calibre, he should within a week or two stand ready to claim his spot in the staring eleven alongside Barcos.

Brunoro has clearly been a busy bee. Considering the limited options and the negative cash flow situation, he’s indeed doing very well so far. The expectation is for him to pull out another card or two from his sleeve before the first deadline to enter players for the Libertadores Cup.

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Academia_StoreTomorrow, the new line of official Palmeiras stores – the Academia Store – open up their doors for the public. The joint Palmeiras/Meltex venture – initially on a sex-year contract – foresees a total of 100 stores throughout Brazil, the first one placed on Augusta Street in São Paulo. Yesterday, an inauguration cocktail was held in the 250 square meter establishment in the presence of many Palmeiras dignitaries, including president Nobre and São Marcos. The store looks mighty fine if you ask me.

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Last but not least, renovation also in the Deliberative Council as Palmeiras’ members last Saturday voted in 76 new conseglieri for a four-year term. The DC consists of 300 counsellors: 148 appointed for life and another 152 elected, of which half are swapped every two years. Slowly but surely, new blood is entering Palmeiras.

A few days back the DC gathered and decided unanimously to propose a 15% filter on presidential candidates as of 2014. The proposal will be brought to the vote in an extraordinary General Assembly, date to be confirmed, and is considered approved if receiving 50% +1 of the total number of votes.

One important decision still lurks in the near future: the election of the new chairman/president of the Deliberative Council, to be held in March. With powers to accelerate or seriously cripple (vide Vergamini) the urgent statuary changes envisioned by Nobre and the progressive forces within Palmeiras, succeeding in placing the “right man” in front of the DC is crucial. Stay tuned for further developments.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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BarcVal.
Losing to Penapolense 2-3 last Sunday – the guests one man short for most part of the second half – really rubbed palmeirenses the wrong way; there were many a protest against the perceived lack of attention and determination shown by several in the squad.

Luckily, the trend was (at least partially) reversed yesterday against São Bernardo: Kleina tested a bold 4-3-3 configuration, obviously allowing for dangerous counter-attacks but also giving starting playmaker Valdivia plenty of offensive options. The score was constructed naturally – two goals from Barcos and one from Valdivia – and could have been amplified had not the São Bernardo keeper been so much on his toes. If Valdivia only could remain without injuries and frequently ignite like he did yesterday, there is room for optimism: on a good day, the Chilean is clearly one of the best players in activity in Brazilian football. Highlights below.
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Palmeiras have no money in the bank. Replacing the 20 players kicked out at the end of last season is an ungrateful task. The medium term solution lies in sponsorships and other partnerships with investors; the short term solution consists of loans and swaps.

Striker Mazinho has left for Vissel Kobe of Japan. No details have been made available, except that the contact signed is valid for a year and that Palmeiras received a satisfactory financial compensation in the transaction. It’s unclear if the contract includes a permanent buying clause.

Luan is another striker on the move. In spite of his 115 games for Palmeiras and being a hard-working and dedicated athlete, his limited skill has frustrated supporters and, in return, frustrated Luan back, being the primary reason for the (at least for now) temporary break. Everything seemed set for a change to Internacional of Porto Alegre, but Inter’s defensive midfielder Josimar, involved in a swap, didn’t fancy going to Palmeiras. Inter made a new proposal, this time in cash, which didn’t please the Verdão: Palmeiras need players. Football CEO Brunoro is in talks with Cruzeiro of Belo Horizonte and a deal seems likely to close already today Friday, reportedly involving defensive midfielder Charles, left-back Marcelo Oliveira and possibly a third Cruzeiro player in the swap.

Word on the street is also that Palmeiras are very close to signing 21-year-old offensive midfielder Ronny from Figueirense. The contract would be a one-year loan.

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The Copa Libertadores groups are now defined as Tigres from Argentina beat Venezuelan Deportivo Anzoátegui 3-0 to grasp the last spot in group 2, already featuring Palmeiras, Libertad and Sporting Cristal.

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The Brazilian Football Federation has released the schedule for this year’s edition of the Brazil Cup. The modified tournament, running 3 April to 27 November, now features 86 teams in seven knockout phases. For the first time since 2000, also national teams qualified for the Libertadores Cup (Palmeiras, Grêmio, Fluminense, Corinthians and Atlético Mineiro) will participate in the Copa do Brasil, but these will only enter the tournament as the last 16 battle it out.

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As Nobre and Brunoro continue the re-structuring of Palmeiras’ administration, one change stirred the blood of many a palmeirense earlier this week: the hiring of journalist Fernando Mello as head of the Club’s Communications Department. The department has been without command for some time, but still performed exceptionally well due to the more than competent work of messieurs Fabio Finelli, Marcelo Cazavia and Fernando Galluppo – the only three survivors when the Tirone administration terminated the contract with the firm they were working for.

So, what’s the fuzz all about? Well, there’s a fear that the award winning trio (Best Football Club Press Office 2012) will be substituted by people of Mello’s choice. And to further aggravate the anxiety is the fact that Mello is a feverish, outspoken and well-connected Corinthians supporter: for some people enough reason to disqualifying him from working at Palmeiras regardless of qualifications.

Supporters are passionate, often irrational. Now, from the directors, I expect rationality. I will give Nobre and Brunoro a vote of confidence on this one: unless they thought it very important I’m sure they wouldn’t have chosen Mello. And Mello, well, the man certainly has some balls walking straight into the Lion’s den, knowing he will be monitored like never before in his professional life. Welcome and good luck to you, Mello.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Admittedly we jumped the gun in regard to the expected arrival of Thiago Scuro to replace César Sampaio: turns out the chosen one is Omar Feitosa, currently the coordinator of physical preparation of athletes at Atlético Paranaense football club, a position he held at Palmeiras between 2007 and 2010.

The 45-year-old has worked at many a Brazilian club and can also point to a couple of international experiences in his CV: Shenzen Jianlibao from China and the Lebanese national team. Feitosa was invited omarfeitosaby Paulo Nobre himself, who openly admits to liking Feitosa’s rather “hard” and serious approach. The new administrator will not, unlike Sampaio, participate in negotiating players, but rather be the link between players and directors. As he’s never exercised this specific function before, it will be Football CEO José Carlos Brunoro’s task to mould Feitosa, who reportedly has accepted the invitation and is expected to start at Palmeiras on 2 February.

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Last Wednesday night Palmeiras played their second game in the São Paulo championship, beating Oeste 1-3. Positive aspects include Valdivia’s good performance when coming on in the second half, Luan’s goal (Luan has declared he’s “fed up” with the criticism he’s receiving from supporters and has expressed his wish for a transfer: early next week we should learn whether Nobre/Brunoro/Kleina have decided to stick with Luan or if it’s time to part ways. Brunoro has confirmed that several teams are interested in the player. Either way, Luan scoring is good if he stays and good for boosting his value if he de facto is negotiated) and yet another solid performance by Prass. On the negative side, best-so-far midfielder Souza hurt his left knee and should be out for 2-4 weeks. Watch the highlights below.
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Tomorrow Sunday Palmeiras face Penapolense in the third round of the Paulista. The game take place at the Pacaembu stadium, 17h local time. Penapolense beat Ituano 3-0 in the first round, only to lose to Mogi Mirim by the same score in the second. It’s anybody’s guess, but Palmeiras should win and win comfortably.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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For the second leg of the South America Cup group of 16 knockout phase Palmeiras rested important players, notably Marcos Assunção, Henrique and Maurício Ramos. Others that could have made a difference – like Maikon Leite and Wesley – are either in recovery or not enlisted in the SA Cup. Palmeiras’ line-up – Bruno; Artur, Leandro Amaro, Thiago Heleno and Juninho; Márcio Araújo, Patrik (Betinho), Tiago Real, Daniel Carvalho (Obina) and Mazinho (Luan); Barcos – struck no fear in the hearts of the Millonarios players who came on fast and strong as of the first minute at the El Campín stadium, Bogotá. Additional enemies like high altitude fatigue and odd ball curves completed the scenario as the Colombians patiently and systematically squeezed the juice out of us. 3-0 could have been 4 or 5: Bruno performed well and had a bit of luck.

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The good news is no one was injured – with the exception of a few bruised egos – and that Palmeiras from now on can focus 100 per cent on the Brasileirão rescue mission.

Speaking of egos: it’s inadmissible that hotheads like Betinho and especially Luan continue to act out their frustrations at Palmeiras’ expense. Luan wasn’t sent off solely due to a touch of grace from the excellent Victor Hugo Carillo from Peru; Betinho however made sure to conclude his short, pathetic display as to leave the referee no option but to pull out the red card. I’m wondering what would have happened had Valdivia been on the pitch.

Not wasting another thought on the SA Cup and Millonarios, the million dollar question is if Palmeiras will find willpower, tactics and technique to once again turn Porto Alegre into “Porco Alegre” as happened against Grêmio in the semi-finals of this year’s Brazil Cup. On Saturday at 16:20 (yes, a rather odd time), Internacional receive Palmeiras in the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul for the 33rd round of the Brasileirão. We’re four points behind Bahia who receive Grêmio that very same day, kick-off scheduled for 18:30. We need to see a very different Palmeiras from yesterday’s to stand a chance.

Avanti Palestra!

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This afternoon the almighty Brazilian Superior Tribunal of Sports (STJD) fined Palmeiras US$ 20.000 for the vandalism – which included a few object thrown onto the pitch – that took place at the Pacaembu during and after the derby against Corinthians a couple of weeks back. Worse, the STJD also ruled that Palmeiras will have to host four home games (against Coritiba, Cruzeiro, Botafogo and Fluminense) at least 100 clicks from the capital. Two options seem most likely: the Fonte Luminosa stadium in Araraquara (288km far) and the Santa Cruz stadium in Ribeirão Preto (336km far). This is all very unfortunate, as supporters were finally having games played in the capital and were showing up in excellent numbers.

In the same ruling Luan was punished with a three-games suspension (due to the red card he received in the derby).

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A lot of the rage exposed during the abovementioned game was mostly aimed at Palmeiras’ directors. A smaller group evens did some damage to vice-president Frizzo’s restaurant a few hours after the final blow of the whistle. Ever since, both president Tirone and vice-president Frizzo have been keeping a low profile (kindly speaking) but Frizzo gave an interview the other day, again missing out on a great opportunity to stay quiet.

I don’t feel I have any blame in what’s happening. I’m working as normal, like I’ve always done. If it didn’t turn out right, it was the team [the team’s fault, my clarification], not Frizzo. I have consciousness of what I’m doing, and because of that, I would never resign at this moment. I was part of the group that was champion in the Brazil Cup. One can’t think that now, everything is wrong.

Seems like Frizzo believes he can have the best of two worlds, much like private financial institutions that pocket the profit only to be bailed out by governments (i.e. us taxpayers) in times of crises. When Palmeiras win, Frizzo claims his part of the glory; when Palmeiras lose, it’s the player’s fault. Nice. No wonder some people think smashing up his restaurant sounds like a good idea.

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Just because things are chronically bad at Palmeiras, at least politically and administratively speaking, one mustn’t believe everything one reads. A certain journalist recently published that Palmeiras’ directors had decided on not giving players any kind of bonus in case Palmeiras escape relegation. This is an outright lie: in fact, leaders of the squad took the initiative and approached the directors and informed them that they would not accept any bonuses and that right now the last thing on their minds is money. A display of dignity from the squad. And one more example of bad journalism, bordering on the criminal.

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Speaking of dignifying: Luiz Felipe Scolari was in Brasilia the other day to meet with the Minister of Sports Aldo Rebelo – a palmeirense body and soul. This time however, the topic was not our Verdão but an invitation by Rebelo for Scolari to promote certain events and activities by the Ministry on a volunteer basis. Big Phil not only accepted, as gave his first interview after having left Palmeiras.

“I believe it was the right moment for me exiting Palmeiras and somebody with capacity and possibility for professional growth – as Gilson Kleina – to take over”, Scolari stated. “It was the right path, both for me and for Palmeiras, and the best thing that could have happened”. On the victory against Figueirense, has said that he “watched, cheered and liked the game”, praising Kleina’s debut and approving of the spirit that the squad was showing. 

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Indeed the spirit is good in the squad, with players smiling and joking during training sessions. Our striker Barcos has yet one more reason to smile as he was yesterday once again called up to join the Argentine national squad, this time against Uruguay and Chile, 12 and 16 of October. Playing in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers is of course great news for Barcos. For Palmeiras, not as great: our main striker will guaranteed be absent against Coritiba and Náutico, very likely also against Bahia. Crucial matches and crucial points on the line.

On the other hand, it does us no good worrying about Barcos and the future: there is one opponent and only one game to worry about: tomorrow’s clash with coach Kleina’s former club Ponte Preta. Three points in the bag and Palmeiras will be breathing down the neck of the 2-3 teams closest to the relegation zone.

Avanti Palestra!

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