Sambafoot Sunday: Is Santos the right move for Leandro Damião?
Sambafoot Sunday by James Nalton. The beat goes on...
Santos wasted no time in their preparations for the 2014 Brazilian season, creating waves in the transfer market with a couple of high profile moves, and links with several more.
They appointed a new manager in the shape of the highly regarded former Botafogo coach Oswaldo de Oliveira. The Rio native took his Botafogo side on an unexpected rollercoaster ride last season, which included a brief title challenge and eventual Libertdores qualification.
Since Oliveria took over, Santos have been heavily linked with promising players such as Botafogo’s wonderkid centre back Dória, and the exciting Chilean winger Eduardo Vargas. They signalled their intent by signing a player once touted as a future Brazil number 9, Leandro Damião.
It wasn’t so long ago that Damião was linked with some of the big teams in Europe, with the usual Italian clubs hovering around the next Brazilian star, as well as ongoing links with English clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
During the 2013 season however, Damião’s star fell somewhat as he only managed 5 goals in 26 appearances for Porto Alegre side Internacional. It was a season in which much was expected from their strike force of Diego Forlán, Ignacio Scocco, and Damião, but the trio failed to live up to expectations. It was left to experienced attacking midfielder Andrés D'Alessandro to score the goals which steered the club known as Colorado clear of the relegation zone.
As a result of this poor form the interest from Europe quietened, but third party investment group Doyen Sports weren’t deterred.
The same third party who took one of the best poachers in world football, Radamel Falcao, to the football tax haven that is Monaco, now owns 70% of Damião whilst Santos pay up for his considerable wage. Even though the third party should decrease the gamble that is paying big money for a player out of form, it could still be very costly for Santos should the player fail to perform.
Returning to the player himself, there are many eyebrows raised when one of the higher profile players in Brazil moves within the Brazilian league, rather than packing his bags for foreign lands. There were similar murmurs when Dedé left Vasco da Gama for Cruzeiro rather than moving to Europe, but the centre back’s move was justified, at least in terms of domestic success, as Cruzeiro ran out winners of the 2013 Brasileirão.
Whether it affected Dedé’s international chances is up for debate, but it proved that a move within the league can be successful, even if Dedé’s transfer occurred under different circumstances, as it was forced through quickly to boost Vasco’s ailing finances.
Regardless of the financial details surrounding his transfer, Damião now finds himself as a marquee signing at a popular club, with a chance to re-make his name as one of the top centre forwards in Brazil. It’s a position in which Brazil is currently lacking depth at national level, and a successful season at the Vila Belmiro could be much more fruitful than warming a bench in Europe.