In February of this year a little known Brazilian, this side of the Atlantic Ocean anyway, travelled to London for a three month stay with Tottenham Hotspur. The player was Sao Paulo’s Bruno Uvini. But after three months training and playing among the reserves the Spurs staff deemed him unworthy of a move to White Hart Lane. He know seems set to join Serie A side Lazio after taking part in the Olympics with Brazil this summer, so did Spurs miss a trick?
Uvini was captain of the Brazil Under-20 side that won the World Cup last summer, alongside another Tottenham target in Oscar who scored a hat-trick in the final. But preceding that he also won the prestigious Brazilian youth tournament the Copa Sao Paulo with Sao Paulo’s youth team and the 2011 South American Youth Championship with Brazil. Despite his lack of senior football, Uvini is already a well-decorated player.
The 21-year-old has now been selected in the Brazil team to take part in the Olympic games, adding to his international reputation. Mano Menezes decision to forego an extra centre-back in David Luiz and instead pick Hulk suggests he has enough confidence in Uvini to fill in should either Thiago Silva or Juan Jesus succumb to injury. Yet when that decision was forced on Menezes in last month’s friendly against Argentina, Uvini had a torrid time up against Lionel Messi. The Barcelona superstar made a fool of both central defenders as he netted a hat-trick in a thrilling 4-3 win for Alejandro Sabella’s side.
But it is unfair to judge a player on their first performance against the best in the world, arguably the best ever. He could not get anywhere near Messi but his positioning and his defending from set pieces also showed areas that need vast improvements. There was too much space alongside his fellow inexperienced centre-back Juan Jesus that Argentina exploited, yet Juan looked more assured when coupled with Thiago Silva previously.
However, it must be noted that Uvini has hardly played at senior level for Sao Paulo. Indeed, that is the key motivation behind his decision to leave the club. The 21-year-old made just six appearances in the Brasileiro last season with only one of those coming as a start. But his performances at youth level alone look to have been enough to guarantee him the big European move that he was hoping for with Tottenham.
Once his Olympic duties are completed he is expected to join Lazio where he will compete with Modibo Diakite, Giuseppe Biava and Andre Dias for a role in defence. Whether he will be able to secure one of those roles remains to be seen. He is relatively untested at senior club level and there must be have been a reason if he could not get into the team ahead of players such as Joao Filipe or Paulo Miranda at Sao Paulo in a country where young players are notoriously given greater levels of responsibility.
Despite what would have been a minimal transfer fee to acquire Uvini, no matter what the outcome Spurs fans should not concern themselves with what could have been. Three months of seeing a player day in, day out should be enough to judge whether he is up to the quality of competing for the team. Uvini would have been playing alongside a host of defenders already on the books and at the trivial transfer fee that would have cost just over £3m it seems he was not considered worth a punt.
If he finds first team football hard to come by, which seems very likely with the immediate jump to Serie A, then his career will risk never taking off. European clubs have a tendency to take an interest in the players that are unproven in the Brazilian league, opting to gamble on prospective talent due to them being a few years younger. Though Spurs do need to strengthen in central defence, at that time the club were right to forego his signature
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