It is always a sad time when a fantastic footballer’s career comes to an end. In the modern day there are fortunately a number of destinations where a successful player in the twilight of their career can go to earn a last paycheque before they hang up their boots. The MLS, Qatar and United Arab Emirates have perhaps more traditionally served as a less competitive environment where a career can be extended in recent times. David Beckham and Thierry Henry are to players to opt for America while Fabio Cannavaro and most recently Raul have opted for the Middle East. China has also added its name to the list recently but Brazil is now emerging as a new favourite to house some of the great veterans of the game in previously uncharted territory in South America.
The country is experiencing an economic boom and is now one of the top 10 largest economies in the world. This has filtered through to the clubs in the source of sponsorship money from companies experiencing the vast benefits of growth. Such deals have enabled many of the country’s biggest clubs to hold on to their prize assets, like Santos retaining the in-demand Neymar and Ganso, as well as tempting other players who could still cut it in Europe back to their homeland. Another reason for the latter however involves the desire to gain support to participate in the national team, a motive arguably behind Vagner Love and Luis Fabiano’s recent return to Brazil.
If executed correctly, such big name signings can help improve the revenue flowing into the club further. This was the aim when Flamengo added Ronaldinho to their team, completing a deal that would see sports marketing agency Traffic pay 75% of his wages in return for control over his image rights. Of course, that did not work out quite as well as planned and ultimately left the player well out of pocket.
But it is such a collaboration that could see Clarence Seedorf join Rio de Janeiro club Botafogo. With the saga ongoing, according to sports daily Lance!, the club’s kit suppliers Puma had revealed an interest in paying part of the player’s wages which have proven to be a stumbling block. Puma know it will boost shirt sales and thus their revenue and with multi-national corporations recognising the huge market in Brazil we could start to see some of Europe’s great talents head to South America to end their career.
Alessandro Del Piero is the latest player to be linked such a move by Sky Sports Italia after his contract with Juventus ended. Cruzeiro, Corinthians, Botafogo and Flamengo were the teams touted as the six-time Scudetto winner’s potential suitors in Brazil, but River Plate have also been mentioned as well as a host of club’s from Asia and America. Capturing such a presitigious player would be a coup financially, but even more so if they could still contribute to the team, which Del Piero certainly could.
Hosting the World Cup in 2014 only serves to add to the interest surrounding Brazil. Huge levels of investment into infrastructure and stadiums (if completed in time!) will serve to take the clubs to the next level. Indeed they are already thinking more like businesses than previously. Corinthians recently signed Chen Zhizhao on a long term loan with the Timao board admitting that it was largely a marketing move to help boost merchandise sales in Asia.
For a European to ply their trade in South America remains a rare exploit. World Cup winner David Trezeguet is currently playing for River Plate in Argentina’s second tier. In Brazil perhaps the best known European was Serbian Dejan Petkovic who spent time at no fewer than seven different Brazilian clubs before lifting the national championship with Flamengo in 2009.
The outlook for the Samba nation looks positive both economically and in footballing terms. They possess a hugely competitive championship that will only continue to grow if managed correctly. And so potential transfers of previously world class players like Seedorf and Del Piero could set a precedent for retiring Europeans to test their mettle in South America.