Friday Apr 27, 2018  
  15/08/2013: Player Profile: Felipe Anderson
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Members of's Fever Forum will be more than aware of my disdain for the present mercato and my strong belief that this summer rates among the worst mercati in the Lotito era - and the reason why I am drawing that conclusion is largely down to the transfer of Felipe Anderson from Santos. When Felipe Anderson was secured by Lazio on 25 June for a sum in the region of 8 million euro, many saw this as the conclusion of a long, drawn out saga. Personally, I feel the Felipe Anderson saga has just begun.

Igli Tare initiated talks with Santos in January and when the move fell through, Claudio Lotito and Tare received a lot of unjust criticism. According to Tare, Felipe Anderson was a deal that had been worked on for some time with the future in mind and the fact that an agreement could not be reached before the close of the transfer window was no big deal - he promised Felipe Anderson would arrive in the summer and you have to concede that he delivered, despite the best efforts of Doyen Sports - the third party who had a 50% stake in Felipe Anderson  - to scupper the deal.

However, all is not well with Felipe Anderson. Suspicions were raised when his agent told the media that it would be several weeks before his client would be fit enough to undergo a medical and hours later, S.S. Lazio release images of Felipe Anderson on an exercise bike at the Paideia clinic, seemingly undergoing a medical. A month down the line, and Felipe Anderson has been on a separate training regime as he continues to recover from his injury - a sprained ankle according to his agent. At present, Felipe Anderson is not fit enough to kick a football and yet we are led to believe that, somehow, he passed a medical examination which lasts a number of hours. The yarn that is being spun in Felipe Anderson's case differs from the issues surrounding the medicals of Vinicius Freitas and Mustafa Seck who initially failed their examinations, but had made a miraculous recovery within 24 hours. There is a suspicion in my mind that Felipe Anderson has not passed a medical and that Lazio have spent 8 million euro on a player whose physical ability is indecipherable at present.

Tare and Lotito have shown an utter disregard for physical condition in the past - as long as the players have talent, they are on our wishlist and Tare is adamant that Felipe Anderson is the real deal. However, so many players in South America over the last 5 or 6 years have been the 'real deal' and have come to Europe and failed miserably - Hernanes being a notable exception. Worryingly, playmakers from Santos have tended to fall into the category of flops. Between 2006 and 2008, Rodrigo Tabata was a wily playmaker at Santos and was being lauded as the best player left in Brazil. He managed to hit 42 goals over the two-year period and transferred on to Gaziantepspor in Turkey where he lit up the league, but a spell at Besiktas was less fruitful and like so many other flops, he can now be found earning his keep in Qatar. Rodrigo Tabata's shoes were eventually filled by Ganso who at the age of 18/19 took Brazil by storm but at the age of 23, he remains in Brazil, barely playing and looks a shadow of his former self. As Ganso lost form and moved onto Sao Paolo, Felipe Anderson stepped in and delivered the goods, but there was less fuss this time around and given Felipe Anderson's performance over the last year or so, the Santos faithful were right to play down his talent.

I don't dispute that Felipe Anderson is a talented inidividual and I would not write him off, but given his current lack of fitness and his recent lack of performance, there is absolutely nothing to get excited about yet. Felipe Anderson - having trained very lightly over pre-season - will need at least until Christmas to get up to speed and gain match fitness. His next challenge - and his greatest challenge - will be showing that his early form at Santos was not a fluke and that he can create opportunities in a league were space is limited. Rodrigo Tabata and players of his ilk have suffered in Europe because creating opportunities in a league as free-flowing and open as Brazil's Serie A is a completely different ball game to creating opportunities in the tactical, technical Italian Serie A. Players like Ganso have struggled to replicate their early form because when questions are eventually asked of them, they cannot conjure up the answers. What worries me about Felipe Anderson is that he has to respond positively to both challenges to succeed at Lazio and that is a tall order.

We have taken a punt on Felipe Anderson. Tare has seen a spark in the kid, but it is going to take a lot of fuel to ignite this fire and at present, the boy has absolutely nothing in the tank. All is not lost though and we need to remind ourselves that some of the best Brazilian acquisitions in recent years were gambles that paid off. Fernandinho had been a stalwart in the Shakhtar Donetsk side before becoming Manchester City's latest big money acquisition this summer, but like Felipe Anderson, the 9 million euro that was paid for Fernandinho seemed curious at the time given the player's rather modest record in Brazil. Ronaldinho - who was a prodigious talent in Brazil but unknown outside the continent - made his move to Paris St. Germain as a 21 year-old for a paltry 5 million euro and had he not been embroiled in a fake passport scandal, he could have found himself with St. Mirren in Scotland for a fraction of that price. Even Kaka arrived in Europe cheaply, landing in Milan for fractionally more than Lotito has paid for Felipe Anderson.

It is not fair to compare Felipe Anderson to recent greats like Ronaldinho and Kaka, but this signing has two possible outcomes. Thinking positively, we can hope that Felipe Anderson is like the aforementioned names in the sense that his talent has been underestimated and he arrives in Rome to carve a place for himself in our hearts. In terms of ability, Felipe Anderson does seem to have an eye for a pass and an eye for goal and if he can demonstrate the type of footballing intellect that we associate with Brazilians, perhaps we have a gem on our hands. Worst case scenario, Felipe Anderson will fail as the spark Tare saw turns out to be a vivid hallucination, the money will have been a waste and Europe's elite will chuckle at us ever thinking that Felipe Anderson was a good signing.

Felipe Anderson is a gamble. Lotito is the croupier, Tare has placed most of our transfer budget on black and the roulette wheel is continuing to spin. While we wait to see what colour the ball will land on, I will continue to argue that we shouldn't have spun the wheel in the first place.
Author: Cathal Mullan
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