If a Brazilian player has talent, then they are usually snapped up by Europe’s elite in their late teens. Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka and Pato all moved to Europe when they were young and went on to achieve success. The next generation of Brazilian talent have already been linked with European clubs: Wellington Silva is joining Arsenal, Neymar has been linked with Man City and Chelsea and Douglas Costa was heavily linked with Manchester United before joining Shakhtar in January. But some players decide to stay in Brazil for a few extra years before coming to Europe. Sao Paulo’s Hernanes is one of those players. But at 24, is Hernanes soon to be Europe-bound or is he just another Brazilian that fails to live up to the hype?
The Sao Paulo number 10 burst onto the scene in 2008, winning the player of the year award in Brazil and being named the most promising player in the world by the Times in 2008. The big clubs have all been sniffing around the “new Kaka”, with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter and AC Milan, Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid having been linked with Hernanes in the last year.
What’s the fuss about Hernanes? An all-around midfielder, the Brazilian has played on the wing but is most suited to central midfield, where he can use his exceptional passing skills to dictate the game. With great technical ability, awareness and superb vision, Hernanes is two footed, likes to shoot and South American expert Tim Vickery said of the playmaker, “there’s no one better in Brazilian football at the moment.”
Hernanes’ style of play has led to comparisons with Real Madrid midfielder Kaka, but this is mainly because they have both played for Sao Paulo. This label shouldn’t be taken seriously, as any young Brazilian attacker is either the next Pele if he plays for Santos, or the next Kaka, Ronaldinho or Robinho if he shows more than a glimpse of talent. Hernanes is more like a Cesc Fabregas type and he has also been compared to former Brazil midfielder Rai and Argentina’s Fernando Redondo.
I can admire Hernanes approach as he differs from the typical Brazilian prodigies that get seduced by the bright lights of Europe and leave Brazil as soon as a big club comes sniffing around. Keirrison is an example of a player that should have stayed in Brazil for an extra year, having struggled in Europe this season with Benfica and Fiorentina. But at 24, Hernanes needs to move to Europe now if he wants to make it at the very top level, as he is soon approaching his peak as a midfielder.
This season for Sao Paulo, Hernanes has played in 18 games, scoring 6 goals for a team who are fourth in the Brazilian league and eleven points behind leaders Santos. The midfielder expressed his desire last month to move to Europe, saying:
“My dream is to play in Europe. But I understand that first of all there must be negotiations.
As long as there is nothing concrete, I will continue realising my dream of wearing the Sao Paulo shirt. Whatever will be will be. Otherwise, I am happy to stay here.”
AC Milan are understood to be Hernanes’ preferred destination, as he is keen to follow in the footsteps of his idol Kaka. Hernanes reportedly has a €25 million release clause and with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool,Man United and Man City in the market of attacking talent, Hernanes could be on his way to the Premiership this summer.
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