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Sambafoot Sunday: Could Éverton Ribeiro Crack Europe?

The Brasileirão player of the season is attracting interest from several clubs, but could he cut it in Europe?

Sambafoot Sunday by James Nalton. The beat goes on...

Éverton Ribeiro is the latest Brazilian name on everyone’s lips. Having been the stand-out player in this season’s Brasileirão, he was recently linked with European clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool, and last week his outstanding performances were rewarded when he was named best player in the championship by the CBF.

The ‘Craque do Campeonato’ – as the award is known in Brazil - is voted for by players and coaches from clubs in Brazil’s top division, as well as members of the media and members of Brazil’s current international squad. Evidently, the Cruzeiro player’s performances have been noticed by his peers, as well as his growing number of fans.

Éverton Ribeiro’s rise to the top of Brazilian football has been slow and steady. Whilst on loan at São Caetano from Corinthians, he was part of the Brazil U-20 side which won the 2009 South American youth championship. The squad for this competition included players such as Sandro, now at Tottenham Hotspur, current Shakhtar Donetsk player Douglas Costa, and one of the other stars of this season’s Brasileirão, Goiás striker Walter.

Since then Ribeiro has played his club football with Coritiba, before ending up at Cruzeiro, despite transfer rumours linking him with Russian side Spartak Moscow at the start of the 2013 season. It was a significant move in Ribeiro’s career, and now that he’s become the top player in the Brazilian league, his next move could be even more important.

There are a number of suitors across Europe and Asia, as clubs assess whether the 24-year-old would fit into their side. Manchester United and Liverpool have been linked, but it’s questionable as to whether he’ll fit straight into the English league in the way that his compatriots Oscar, Paulinho, Philippe Coutinho, and the aforementioned Sandro have done.

There’s no doubt he has the talent. He’s a tricky attacking midfielder who has enjoyed playing on the right side of the attack of late. From here he can cut inside onto his stronger left foot, and make things happen closer to goal, rather than stay wide and run the by-line as a more traditional winger would.

The trend of wingers playing on the ‘wrong’ side has become common in Europe too, with players like Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben having much success cutting inside from wide positions. Éverton Ribeiro could easily do this job, which means he might be able to slot in at a European club which plays in a certain way, and the number of sides in Europe which suit his style could be on the increase.

We’ve seen a slight hint of a shift to 4-2-2-2 formations in Europe, with teams such as Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City adopting the Chilean’s favoured system, and Brendan Rodgers’ use of Philippe Coutinho behind two strikers at Liverpool showing that there might be a Brazilian flavour seeping into European tactical systems. This would suit Ribeiro down to a tee, as this season he’s often played behind a front two and alongside another attacking midfielder, in a front four where he’s been the mainstay.

For clubs in the top European leagues, and in the English Premier League especially, it always seems risky to buy a player straight from Brazil. It may be even more of a risk to buy a player who has been a late bloomer and still doesn’t have a cap for the Brazilian national team, and at a time when his value will be inflated by his recent award and the attention garnered by it.

However, for the right club with the right philosophy, it may be a gamble well worth taking, on a player whose gradual rise could be peaking just at the right time.


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