I would like to kindly introduce Mario, he is a reader and commenter on the blog who decided to email me with an idea. His idea was to use his Brazilian background to help shed some light on the issues surrounding the risk of signing a Brazilian player, their transition to Europe, and ultimately their value to AC Milan. This piece will run for the rest of the week in four parts so enjoy.
So now that we have determined that Brazilian players 1) have incredible skill, 2) are noticeably weaker defensively than offensively, and 3), are undisciplined and volatile, the question becomes is it worth it? Is it worth buying players straight out of Brazil, or buying the Brazilian rejects of other European teams?
This is the one point for which I will not attempt to provide a complete answer, simply because I don’t know. What I do know, is that buying Brazilian rejects of other teams is one of the dumbest things anyone could possibly do. If a Brazilian does not fit in to a team, chances are, its not because he doesn’t have skill. It is much more likely that the team is trying to get rid of the player because they are either too undisciplined, unwilling to adapt, too old, or all of the above. When a Brazilian player successfully makes the switch to Europe, it is much more likely that the team that purchased him will NOT want to part ways with him without an exorbitant fee.
The Brazilians that are being offloaded cheap are broken merchandise. They have been tried, and they have failed. Because of this, I am completely against buying players like Emerson, Mancini, Ronaldinho (bear with me here, yes he is great, but he was being pushed out of Barca not for lack of skill but for lack of discipline) and other European Soccer rejects simply because they are Brazilian.
Milan’s management seems to believe that our team’s “family atmosphere” and history with Brazilians can fix these “broken” players, but alas, it cannot. Players like Ronaldinho will show flashes of skill as often as they show flashes of laziness and stupidity. Yes he was our best performer offensively last year, but imagine how much better it would have been had we spent the money used on him to rebuild our aging squad? If we had bought a trequartista, a better striker, and better midfielders, all funded by some some of the Ronaldinho and Ronaldo money, we would be a lot better off today . Instead, in the case of Ronaldidnho, we are relying on a volatile inconsistent player who is just as likely to dazzle us all as he is to show up hung over.
Part one of my answer, should we risk buying Brazilian rejects from other teams? In my opinion, NO. This leads to the second, and much more difficult part of the question. Is it worth the risk to buy promising youth from Brazil? We could be getting the next Kaka (though its unlikely there will ever be a player like Kaka since he grew up in a good family, very different from the conditions of those who grew up in poverty), or we could be getting the next Robinho. On one hand, a player who will positively contribute for years, or on the other, an unquestionably great player that we will end up selling for less than we purchased in a few years because he does not perform as expected, for a combination of reasons. Obviously, no one at Milan regrets purchasing Kaka. But I promise you, a lot of Madridista’s regret the purchase of Robinho.
Should we spend 15-20 million euros on a greatly skilled Brazilian player? It could be disastrous or it could be great. I trust our scouts, and the likes of Cafu, to identify talent, but how easy is it to predict what will happen when these talented players are let loose in Europe? Should we take this risk, and become players in the Brazilian lottery, or should we play it safe, and spend 30-40 million euros on the same player once he has established himself in Europe and proved that he can handle the pressure, the culture shock, and the change in scenery while still working hard and performing as well for his Club as he would for his country?
My opinion is that it depends on a few factors: the club’s current situation as to whether the risk is worth it and if bring in the player can benefit the teamIf we are already set at all other positions (like we were when we purchased Kaka), it is a risk we should be willing to take. Worst case scenario, we lose 10-15 million euros on the deal once we sell a player who doesn’t prove to be good enough, but we still have a great team without him. However, when we are a team that needs to be completely rebuilt, is it worth it risking a huge portion of our transfer funds on one Brazilian player, a proverbial “single lottery ticket,” which historically has a higher chance of failing than succeeding? I don’t think so. We couldn’t afford that kind of loss when we have a whole team to revamp. It is for this that I believe we need to focus on Italian youth at these times, and why we should push for Italian players. While their possible upside may not be as great as a young Brazilian’s, there is a much greater chance that 15 million euros spent on young Italian players who are more likely to do well in Serie A will provide us with a better foundation then 15 million euros spent on one “Ganso type player” who might very well tank as soon as he hits foreign soil.
Should we risk most of our transfer funds on one high stakes lottery player, or should we invest in less exciting yet less financially dangerous Italian youth? Hopefully, this series of posts has helped some of you at least see mine, Gianfranco’s, and other’s point of view when we ask for Italian youth. It has nothing to do with ardent nationalism or prejudice against Brazilians, it is more of a calculated look at the risks. The young Italians may not be as flashy as the young Brazilians, but it is always a lot better to build a foundation out of bricks than out of gold.