So it turns out that the rumours in the British press were true after all. After weeks of speculation in the British press – which I am many in Brazil thought was nonsense – a huge bid for Lucas Moura from Manchester United was confirmed. 88m Reais or 33 million Euros depending on which newspaper you read or exchange rate you use. A lot of money for a 19 year old – about the same amount Manchester United paid for Wayne Rooney. But, is he really worth all that?
When the bid was confirmed, I was surprised and so were people in Brazil who had thought that Inter Milan and Real Madrid were the only two clubs in the running for the player’s signature. But it turns out that Manchester United were in the running all along. The numbers involved are even more of a surprise and even then the bid was turned down by his club. United have come back with a new bid of 38m euros this week which has also been rejected.
Lucas is 19 years old and one of Brazil’s brightest prospects. He burst into the São Paulo team a couple of years ago. I remember watching him destroy Palmeiras in one of his first games. Fantastic close control, dribbling and a very good goal in that game too. Since then Lucas has gone on to become São Paulo’s most important player – more important than the likes of the ageing and injury prone Rogerio Ceni and Luis Fabiano. He has also gone on to play 15 times for Brazil (according to Wikipedia but that sounds about right to me).
He is one of Brazil’s top talents but the feeling I have is that the player might just have hit a ceiling. Will he keep improving? Can he break the ceiling? I have my doubts. He is not a starter for the seleção and he will start on the bench for Brazil at the Olympic games with Mano Menezes preferring Hulk on the right hand side of a his man attack. Although he has been around for a while, he hasnt cemented his place in Brazil´s team, not even their young Olympíc team.
One of the problems with Lucas seems to be his decision making. Quite often he runs down blind alleys, puts his head down failing to notice his teammates or choose the right time to pass the ball to them. He has a good shot but also wastes some good chances and is not a goalscorer. According to Wikipedia his goal record is 14 goals in 59 games for Sao Paulo. Okay, I know Wikipedia is not reliable but while Neymar seems to score in almost every game for Santos Lucas certainly does not for São Paulo. They both basically play in the same position as winger come forward with Neymar on the left and Lucas normally on the right.
The videos you see of Lucas in action on Youtube are all true. He has done that and not every player can. He is special. But you also need to remember that lots of those goals and skills were done in the São Paulo State Championship against players and teams that are frankly lousy. I mentioned his performance against Palmeiras in a derby match when he was a new real kid on the block but I can’t recall too many other occasions when he has delivered against big teams in big matches which is why there is criticism that he doesn’t deliver when it really matters.
He hasn’t won a trophy with São Paulo – their rivals Corinthians, Santos and Palmeiras all have – and in the São Paulo state Championship knock-out stages two years running he was overshadowed by Neymar. Santos beat São Paulo at home with Neymar instrumental. It was meant to be Lucas and São Paulo’s day – Santos had just come back from a gruelling trip to Bolivia in the Copa Libertadores and were tired. Neymar stepped up. Lucas didnt.
I haven’t watched enough of São Paulo to give a completely authoritative view. I went to see them live last night (match report to come) but obviously Lucas wasnt playing since hes with the Olympic squad. What was apparent last night was that Sao Paulo seriously missed him. But on the times I have seen him my impressions are those I have described above. It’s not just me – I read a lot of match reports by Brazilian journalists and I’ve asked my friends who are São Paulo fans their view on the player. They all think that it is crazy that the club doesn’t sell the player – they would sell him for a lot less than the 33m. The consensus among journalists in Brazil is that he is worth 60-70m Reais and not the 90m Reais that Manchester United offered.
I am personally shocked that Manchester United have bid that much for Lucas. I don’t see how he will be any better than Nani, Young and Valencia. Lucas is a very quick player but is not a playmaker. He is nothing like Ganso or Oscar. He is nothing like Eden Hazard. If you ask me, Manchester United need somebody who can pass the ball very well, dictate the pace of the game and not another willing, although talented, runner. If Manchester United want to spend a fortune on an up-and-coming Brazilian star they should look at Ganso or Oscar in my opinion. Probably a bit late for Oscar though who looks like hes signed at Chelsea. But either way, São Paulo’s rejection of their 33m bid could just be a blessing in disguise.
If I had to describe Lucas I’d say he is the Brazilian equivalent of Theo Walcott. Basically just a more skilful version of Walcott. See photographic evidence below: