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Sambafoot Sunday: Atlético Mineiro's Anelka Interest Should be the Norm

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Many high profile European players move to a new continent for a final pay day, but more of them should choose Brazil.

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

This morning’s tweet from Atlético Mineiro president Alexandre Kalil, moved to confirm rumours that French striker Nicolas Anelka would be joining the Belo Horizonte based club.

Whilst it’s not yet 100% official, and the transfer window in Brazil recently closed, their pursuit of Anelka shows more ambition from Brazilian clubs as they look to compete with the emerging big money leagues in world football.

There are many options available for players of a certain profile as they look to leave Europe for a new adventure coupled with an enticing pay packet, but Brazil has never really been one of them.

Last week’s Sambafoot Sunday discussed Kaká’s possible move to Major League Soccer in the United States, as the Brazilian legend was linked with Orlando City who will be joining the league in 2015. The Middle East is also becoming an increasingly popular destination, thanks to its hugely increased prominence in the world of business and the attractive salaries on offer.

In recent years, many Brazilian players have chosen to carve out a career in the burgeoning leagues in China and Japan, with European footballers beginning to follow suit. Australia’s A-League is another favoured destination, as players look to experience life down-under and continue playing football at a reasonable level.

Whilst all these leagues have their own individual attractions, the Brazilian league could fast become one of the preferred destinations for footballers looking to end their career on a respectable high. They can maintain their profile to a reasonable extent and also take home a handy, if not spectacular pay packet.

Brazilian players have a habit of returning to the Brazilian league once their time in Europe looks to be coming to an end, or, in the case of players such as Alexandre Pato and Jô, players will return to their homeland to increase their chances of national selection if their career in Europe isn’t quite panning out as they’d hoped. But it’s rarely the case that European born players will test themselves in this quality but somewhat unpredictable league.

Brazil’s long, rich footballing history could make it an attractive proposition for players who might favour the standard of football and reputation of the league, above a few extra thousands on their salaries. Now Clarence Seedorf has paved the way with his successful stint at Botafogo, other players in Europe might take notice of this and follow in his footsteps.

Seedorf also worked on his coaching badges in Rio de Janeiro, helping out in training at Botafogo as he looked to add more strings to his bow. Coaching experience in Brazil would look good on any player’s CV if they plan to continue in the game as a coach, and their knowledge of different football cultures and styles will help them deal with the Brazilian star players in training, as they inevitably arrive in Europe.

The recent controversies surrounding Nicolas Anelka’s quenelle gesture – which is perceived as anti-Semitic – will overshadow any future career move, but the 35-year-old Frenchman still has plenty to offer on the pitch if he can keep his mind on the game.

Anelka has already experienced life in the Chinese Super League, having spent a typically up-and-down season with Shanghai Shenhua, but now the man who has come to embody the term ‘journeyman striker’ looks set to try his hand in South America.


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