SPURS TARGET: Who Is This £9m Brazilian Striker?
In all the fuss over who’s leaving The Lane, one increasingly likely transfer seems to have slipped off the radar a little. Perhaps no one can quite believe that after what seems like an eternity, but we might be buying a striker. Maybe I should have told you to take a seat.
Someone said to me that they were excited by the prospect of his arrival because he was unknown. Each to their own, but that would scare the bejeesus out of me. So for anyone who does want to know more, here it is.
Leandro Damiao is a 21 year old Brazil international currently plying his trade with our Brazilian affiliate Internacional. It appears that a deal in the region of £9m is being hashed out and could be sorted before the Copa America kicks off on July 1st.
Many Brazilian strikers follow a familiar path and are spotted as wonderkids at an early age. They are feted, hyped via YouTube and then burst onto the world stage, sometimes to stunning effect, Pato and Robinho being good examples. Well Leandro Damiao isn’t one of them.
At 17 he was a gangly midfielder struggling to get a pro contract. After failing yet another trial he bugged the club president to give him another try, the president was impressed with his determination and agreed. The coach asked him to try out upfront, doing well enough to earn a contract and set about scoring goals in the lower leagues.
At 6 foot 2 and muscular he is more a prototype English centre forward than a stereotypical Brazilian. He has a decent technique, is a real threat in the air (are you reading Peter Crouch?) and has a poachers instinct in front of goal. He doesn’t have electric pace but is quick once he gets going and knows his way around the penalty area.
After tearing up the lower leagues in Brazil, he was picked up by Internacional and was placed in their reserve squad. He then burst to prominence in the Copa Libertadores triumph last year for Inter. Yes the one that kept Sandro in Brazil for longer than we’d have liked. Leandro wasn’t even sure he’d be a sub for the second leg of the final, but came on in the second half and slotted home the title clinching goal.
Despite his impact he still wasn’t guaranteed to be a regular for Inter this season but took his chance early on and has scored better than 1 every 2 games. This impact saw him get his first call up for the Brazil squad to play Scotland at The Emirates. Brazil coach Mano Menezes had this to say of him ‘Leandro Damaio belongs to a rare family of strikers that are hard to find in Brazilian football. You need someone with his strength and penalty area presence.’
As we saw with Sandro, he would need time to settle in, and his almost overnight success does make you wonder if he can sustain the development. It would be important not to hang all our hopes on him, particularly in the first half of the season. He would also require a work permit, not a formality, but his expected inclusion in the Copa America squad could provide a useful argument.
If we are operating with a sensible transfer policy, then he would be our ‘junior striker’ signing and would I assume rule out the much rumoured Wickham bid. Not sure how I feel about this, Wickham has bags of potential and moving from Suffolk to London would be marginally less of a culture shock than moving from Porto Alegre. Whatever, I would still expect us to be looking for a proven top level striker.
Whether the deal goes through or not is still up in the air. It would be a risk but every transfer can be seen as one, I for one think he could be a good addition to our squad and hasten the departure of at least one of our current frontmen. I’ve mentioned Sandro a couple of times and he could play a key role in convincing his friend to join us and he would be vital in helping the striker settle.
We could all be dancing to the Samba beat soon enough.
Submitted by Stuart Watts from THFC1882