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Sambafoot Sunday: Anderson was better than Kléberson, but only just

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Anderson's Manchester United story is one of unfulfilled potential.

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

If Anderson was better than Kleberson, then it was only by a small margin. The song which has accompanied the Brazilian since his early days at Manchester United, has become legendary and, unfortunately for Anderson, also mythological.

Ander-son-son-son, he’s better than Kleberson
Ander-son-son-son, he’s our midfield magician
To the left, to the right, to the samba beat tonight,
He is class, with the brass,
And he s**ts on Fabregas

Having begun his career at Grêmio in his home town of Porto Alegre, Anderson was once unimaginatively talked about in the same breath as Ronaldinho. Despite this high praise, there were few similarities on the pitch, and these comparisons arose because they happened to start their careers at the same club in Southern Brazil.

However, there were similarities with Ronaldinho in terms of the levels Anderson could reach within the game, and it’s no surprise that some of the top clubs in Europe were sniffing around to sign the dynamic midfielder. When Anderson left Grêmio to join Porto for around £4m, the sky was the limit.

Anderson was the complete footballing package. A dynamic left footed midfielder who could play in almost any position in the centre of the pitch or on the left side, he had the typically Brazilian skill to compliment his extraordinary pace and power.

These traits were there for all to see when he scored an outstanding individual goal against Náutico, which helped Grêmio seal promotion from the Brazilian second division in 2005. He received the ball in his position on the left of the pitch, went past the opposition full back with ease, before side-winding crab like across the six yard box, and shooting past a startled goalkeeper with his left foot.

During Anderson’s time at Porto, his career was temporarily halted when he suffered a broken leg, but he still contributed greatly to a league and cup win during his time there, with two goals and four assists during the 2006/07 season.

The broken leg may have discouraged a few clubs from making a move for him, and the timing was also unfortunate in terms of his international career, as there was a good chance he could have been included in Brazil squads during this period. However, one team who weren’t deterred by this set-back were Manchester United, who paid a fee somewhere between 20 and 30 million pounds for the player.

The story of Anderson at Manchester United has been well documented: His impressive first season (when he did dominate the midfield away at Cesc Fabregas’ Arsenal), and his subsequent decline thanks to a string of injuries, unconvincing performances, and an apparent lack of fitness.

Despite the club’s success, there have been questions surrounding the centre of Manchester United’s midfield for a few seasons, and unfortunately Anderson has never been the answer.

Anderson will join Fiorentina on loan for the rest of the season, and this could lead to a permanent move. His recent words to the Manchester United fans seemed very much like a goodbye.


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