Copa America 2011: One to watch – Ganso

Name: Ganso

Age: 21

Position: Midfield

Club/Nation: Santos/Brazil

Despite owning a nickname that translates to ‘goose’ in English, Paulo Henrique Chagas de Lima, more fondly referred to as Ganso, is already being labelled as the next big thing to come off Brazil’s seemingly endless supply line of world class players. Ganso joined Santos in 2005 and is already a club phenomenon with an equally gifted accomplice in Neymar in the forward position who also promises great things. An injury kept him sidelined for six months in 2007 but the youngster came back stronger than ever to earn his place in Santos’ starting XI, a place he has made his own ever since. 21 year-old midfielder proved instrumental last season and helped orchestrate Santos’ back-to-back titles in the Campeonato Paulista, the top division in Brazil, and is considered hot property by countless clubs in Spain, Italy and England who have already recognised his potential.

The Brazilian’s style of play has already been likened to fellow countryman Kaka and Zinedine Zidane for his unparalleled vision, composure and array of passing from the centre of midfield. Santos’ number 10 has all the credentials to become one of the best attacking midfielders of his generation and a regular feature in the Brazilian line-up if Mano Menezes gives him the opportunity in the coming Copa America. He has been on the cusp of the national team for a while but has only made one appearance in the famous yellow jersey since progressing from the youth ranks in 2010. A petition was signed by 14,000 people when Dunga left Ganso from his squad for the 2010 World Cup but it was not enough to convince the coach to reconsider his decision. In hindsight perhaps he should have but Menezes appears to have evaded the same mistake as his predecessor and is likely to use Ganso in Brazil’s opening game against Venezuela this coming Sunday.

Santos are notorious for nurturing world class players and brought the likes of Elano, Diego and Robinho through its youth system before they made their successful transition to Europe. Fledgling Ganso is likely to fly the coup sooner rather than later with some of the biggest names in Europe in the chase for his signature. His contract ties him to Santos until 2015 but his £44.5 million buy-out clause may disgruntle potential buyers. It should come as no surprise to see Chelsea and AC Milan in the running for the young Brazilian, with the Italian club showing most activity as they prepare to defend their Serie A title. Europe will have to wait until next year as Ganso has already said he is unwilling to uproot from Santos until the January 2012 transfer window but would like to move to a big European club. Whatever the future has in store, Ganso is a name we will undoubtedly become more familiar with in the coming months and is likely to run the show for Brazil when they host the World Cup in 2014.

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