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A few minutes ago, FC Barcelona announced the signing of Palmeiras’ attacking midfielder Vitinho, confirming last Friday’s featured article at Anything Palmeiras. The 19-year-old, with all of Brazil’s national squad youth divisions on his CV, comes as a loan move, expiring end of June 2018, with an option of purchase set at €15 million.

At Barcelona B, Vitinho is bound to grow significantly as a professional.

Best of luck, kid!
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At the end of June, Barcelona announced that they’d taken a gamble on Brazilian wonder kid Vitinho. The Palmeiras playmaker burst onto the scene at the top flight club, quickly establishing himself as a first-team regular – but can a stint in the Catalonian side’s ‘B’ team hinder or help the 19-year-old’s development?
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Vitinho
Source: FC Barcelona via Twitter

As one of the most highly rated prospects in Brazilian football, Vitinho (Victor Hugo Santana Carvalho) was always going to attract admiring glances from European clubs this summer. Barcelona have decided to take the plunge and secure the signature of the São Paulo-born attacking midfielder; Palmeiras boss Cuca has given the La Liga side the green light to tie up a deal for the youngster.

Vitinho is in need of game time according to his current boss after his progression stalled in recent months, having found himself as an unused substitute on a number of occasions. He’s made just two appearances for the top flight club this season, both of these in the very early stages of the campaign.

He is likely to go straight into Barcelona’s ‘B’ team, who have just sealed promotion from Segunda B and have a tremendous history of promoting young players into the first team. There is no competitive division for reserve sides in Brazil, which means game time has been limited for Vitinho.

It is believed the initial deal would be a loan move with an option of purchase in 12 months’ time. Reports from Brazil suggest that Palmeiras are seeking €1.5 million for the first season, with a further €15 million if they opt to make the deal permanent.

Barcelona currently have three Brazilian-born players in their squad, including Neymar, who was signed from Santos in 2013. Rafinha graduated from the club’s ‘B’ side before eventually breaking into the first team squad during the 2014/15 season. His advice and tutelage could be invaluable to a young talent such as Vitinho, with both players having been born in the same city.

Rafinha played a valuable part in last season’s second-place finish, scoring six times in 18 appearances and is hoping to help his club go one better this time around. Barcelona have been priced up as 10/11 joint-favourites in the football betting markets for La Liga success this season and their Brazilian contingent are likely to play pivotal roles in the campaign.
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Rafinha_barça
Source: Mirror Football via Twitter

Barcelona’s conveyor belt of young talent continues to gather pace and Vitinho may find the transition difficult at first, but getting some first team football under his belt will certainly help his development.

Many promising players have failed to fulfil early hype and this is often attributed to their poor attitude in training. Vitinho will be required to knuckle down, work hard and impress the Barcelona hierarchy if he ever wishes to be lining up alongside Neymar and Rafinha in La Liga. His progress has certainly stalled in recent months but there is no question about the talent he possesses and Barcelona B could be the ideal place to harness it.

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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.

— ooo —

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).

— ooo — 

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.

— ooo —

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.

— ooo —

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.

— ooo —

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.

— ooo —

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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Coach Cuca and the squad Monday afternoon left for Atibaia, some 70km outside of São Paulo, where the men will remain until Friday afternoon. Cuca explained the transition: “There, it’ll be just me and the players. Morning, afternoon and night, nothing but interaction, knowing each other better. There we’ll work two daily session and is where my ideas will be presented, worked on, and understood by the players”.
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Judging by the picture, the squad is not yet using the new training uniform launched a few weeks back. Perhaps they are waiting for the start of the Brasileirão.
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The coming and going of players continues, as Cuca tweaks the little universe to his liking. Victor Luis and Régis are not with the squad in Atibaia, having been negotiated with Botafogo and Bahia respectively.

Just a month ago, 19-year-old Róger Guedes signed with Palmeiras and is already a frequent starting eleven player under Cuca. Today, in a test match against Guarani, not only Guedes but also Tchê Tchê – with the club as of this week – went into the starting eleven. Tchê Tchê (yes, seems like his nickname stays) was elected the revelation of this year’s São Paulo championship, his former team Audax losing the final to Santos by the difference of a goal. Róger Guedes was elected the revelation of this year’s edition of the Santa Catarina championship, playing for Criciúma. The Palmeiras squad already contains last year’s Brazilian championship revelation Gabriel Jesus, and the previous year’s as well in Erik. No doubt, Palmeiras are looking at today with an eye on the future.

The test game ended 6-2 with braces by Jean, Matheus Sales, Barrios (2), Rafa Marques and Cristaldo. Three assists by Gabriel Jesus.   

Speaking of Jesus, the forward is closely coaching his friend Vitinho, an 18-year-old midfielder recently given the opportunity to integrate the main squad. The promising player is fast and light, with a technique that is easily noticed, something which rendered him a Bellinzona “player of the tournament” award in the Swiss competition won by Palmeiras’ U20 squad last March. This kid will be interesting to follow in the years to come.

Today, Colombian Yerry Mina signed a five-year contract with Palmeiras. The player also visited the Allianz Parque for the first time, slowly walking barefoot on the grass, apparently taking it all in. Mina is the sixth Colombian to wear our jersey and the first fullback: before him, there has been Rincón (1994, 1996-1997), Lozano (1995), Asprilla (1999-2000), Muñoz (2001-2004, 2006-2007) and Pablo Armero (2009-2010). The 21-year-old joins the squad as soon as the international transfer window opens in mid-June.

A quick mention before we sign off: the TV Palmeiras youtube channel this week reached the impressive number of 400.000 followers, reinforcing its position as Latin America’s biggest. Congratulations to everyone involved! If you haven’t yet subscribed, here’s the link.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra! 

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48 hours after having exited the Paulistão, and Palmeiras were already announcing modifications to the squad. And not minor modifications: regular starting eleven players Robinho and Lucas are off to Cruzeiro in a swap for Fabrício – comfortable as left-back or midfielder – and Fabiano, a right-back who doubles as a fullback. Both newcomers are younger and considerably taller than Robinho and Lucas.
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Fabricio&Fabiano

Fabrício and Fabiano for Robinho and Lucas

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Today, more exits were announced: Nathan is joining Taylor at Criciúma and Victor Luis is heading for Botafogo. None of these transfers are permanent, they are all loan agreements, same as the Cruzeiro swap. Different from Fellype Gabriel, who has been released from his contract. It’s speculated upcoming exits might involve Zé Roberto and Edu Dracena in addition to Leandro Almeida and Régis.

Cuca will keep on trimming, in line with his preference for a leaner squad with multi-purpose players, allowing for high rotation, a multitude of tactical option and an overall more vertical game-plan. The speed by which the aforementioned player transactions happened is the clearest indicator they have been discretely planned for some time, with Cuca in the driver’s seat. The message is clear: no one is untouchable as Cuca embarks on the mission to reformulate the squad according to his preference. And he’s not modest about it. “I know what I’m doing” and “We’re going to win the Brazilian championship this year” are two recent statements.

Good thing Cuca is confident, because the player swap with Cruzeiro is receiving quite some flak from supporters. Less so related to Lucas, who is a shadow of his 2015 self, but Robinho is a different story. Although the midfielder always suffered ups and downs at Palmeiras, he was heading the assists rank and had reached quite some status due to his spectacular braces against SPFC. Robinho was not uncontested, but in any case considered a key players in the squad. Cuca clearly thought differently, probably finding Robinho rather one-dimensional and without the necessary stamina and pace. “But Robinho was the closest to a playmaker we had and now we have none’, supporters protest. And they are right. Cleiton Xavier could be that playmaker (although he´s not a classical #10) but with his recent record of injuries, nothing can be taken for granted. Which has me thinking Palmeiras are preparing a high-profile signing.

In addition to that wishful-thinking-playmaker, is there space for newcomers in the squad? Cuca says he will promote fullback Augusto and midfielder Vitinho from the youth divisions. Argentinians Tobio and Mouche – currently on loan – will soon be available but Cuca´s intentions are unclear. Chances are better for midfielder Juninho, currently on loan to Paulistão finalists Audax. Stay tuned.

Signing off with a piece of bad news: Allione hurt his knee in the last Libertadores bout and today underwent minor surgery. Initial estimates are for some 4-8 weeks of recovery time.

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