There is a new talent causing a stir in Brazilian football. All the talk may be of Neymar and Lucas Moura, and while the Santos striker’s world class form and potential are undeniable, Fluminense’s Wellington Nem has taken the nation by storm. His excellent displays have seen him playing regularly alongside experienced stars such as Deco and former Olympique Lyonnais striker Fred. The 20-year-old’s development has been meteoric and having been linked to the forward, Arsenal must be alert to the recent enquiries of Juventus or risk missing out on one of the brightest prospects in Brazilian football.
Wellington rose to prominence last year after an exceptional spell on loan with Figueirense. He contributed nine goals, two fewer than the side’s highest scorer Julio Cesar, and was elected the best newcomer to the Brazilian league in 2011. Operating in behind the striker our out in the wide areas his electric pace makes him a handful for any defender. He makes full use of it by burning past defenders, sowing disorganisation among the ranks and he has also developed the excellent knack of being in the right place at the right time to find the net.
Figueirense finished seventh in last season’s Brasileiro and his parent club Fluminense were therefore eager to harness his potential in their first team. Wellington has since continued to progress immensely and has carved himself a regular spot in a team that includes the likes of Deco, Rafael Sobis, Thiago Neves, Fred and young Argentine talent Manuel Lanzini.
The fact is that he offers something that these other players do not. His high work-rate and attacking injection frequently provide the spur for Fluminense to get in behind the opposing defence and stretch them. Even if that is not the case his presence can force a team to sit that little bit deeper, enabling Fred to pick the ball up in more dangerous areas closer to the goal.
As always the emergence of a new and exciting Brazilian player has garnered interest from across Europe. It was believed that an Arsenal scout was present at the Copa Libertadores clash between Fluminense and Boca Juniors in April of this year but there has been debate over who they are actually there to see.
They may well have been impressed as Wellington has not looked out of his depth in the continent’s premier club competition at just 20-years-old. The experience will hold him in good stead for a move to Europe, making him able to cope with the transition to regular high-pressure games unlike many other youngsters. His performances earned him a spot in the Brazilian national team’s recent friendly games where he made two appearances from the bench and he is widely expected to represent the Selecao in the upcoming Olympic games in London.
Reports in Brazil have suggested that Juventus have enquired Wellington, but no concrete offer has yet been made. While the Gunners will be pleased to still have time to weigh up a potential transfer, if they hesitate for too long they will face a stiff fight from the undefeated Italian champions. With Brazil tipped to pick up the gold medal at the Olympics he may force the hand of potential suitors with some decent performances.
Playing time limited due to the likes of Oscar, Neymar, Lucas and Ganso but if Hulk is not selected as one of the players over the age of 23 then it would raise his chances of earning some minutes on the right flank. His only potential downfall could be his delivery, as when stood up by an opposing defender he is not quite as adept as others at shifting the ball to whip in a decent cross. On the other hand this expectation will be eased by the attacking nature of Brazil’s full-backs.
With Andrey Arshavin heavily linked with an exit from the Emirates Stadium it leaves Arsenal short of quality across the forward line, particularly in wide areas. The signing of Lukas Podolski, while very astute, should not be seen as the solution. The German is a striker and was merely shifted to left in order to get in the talented national team. For Arsenal to consider Wellington he would need to up his defensive efforts, but at a such a young age he should be able to adapt to the needs of a new club.
He is a player with an extremely bright future and although he has little over a year of professional football under his belt he has proved himself unfazed by his rapid progression. A move to Europe in the near future is therefore highly likely. Wellington would represent a fantastic signing but if Arsenal want to capture him they will need to monitor the situation closely or risk losing out to the temptation of Juventus.