Ramires adds energy and industry to the Chelsea midfield

The history of the Premier League is littered with failed Brazilian imports. Chelsea fans would have been justified in fearing the worst as Ramires, an £18m signing from Benfica, initially struggled with the pace and intensity of the Premier League. Frequently guilty of giving the ball away cheaply or being caught in possession, Ramires dropped deeper and deeper in support of John Obi Mikel when he was expected to compensate for the box to box midfield absentees Frank Lampard and Michael Essien. Like his compatriot Lucas, who eventually won over the Liverpool faithful, Ramires has since adapted and his buccaneering performances have become part of the new Chelsea aesthetic.

Ramires initially struggled with the scrutiny and culture shock of his move to England, with the language barrier proving to be a sizeable obstacle. It became the underlying theme of his initial interviews as he attempted to explain the underwhelming start he had made to his Chelsea career. An ever increasing grasp of the language and the arrival of former team mate David Luiz will have aided his integration and performances have followed suit, becoming more dynamic and more influential.

Ramires eventually made 41 appearances in all competitions last season, scoring two goals, one of which earned him the award for Chelsea’s goal of the season, a superb solo effort in a 2-0 win over Manchester City in March. In the wake of his wonder goal, Carlo Ancelotti claimed that Ramires has the potential to become the best Brazilian ever to play in England. Ramires in turn thanked his manager for allowing him time to adapt and gain confidence.

This season, under Andre Villas-Boas, Ramires has been a virtual ever present fixture in the Chelsea side and has already exceeded his goals tally from last season. Despite criticism for a terrible miss at Old Trafford, ‘Rambo’ has been receiving glowing reviews and is excelling alongside new signing Raul Meireles, another import from Portugal, via Liverpool. Ramires netted twice against Swansea in a 4-1 victory and scored Chelsea’s third in their recent 3-1 league win over Everton. His lung-busting runs and long distance efforts have become a feature of Chelsea’s play, not seen since Michael Essien in his injury-free pomp.

Ramires has credited Villas-Boas with his impressive start to the season. “This season everything has started great for me, so the arrival of Villas-Boas has really helped,” he explained. “He was the coach of Porto and knew me from the times at Benfica. He has made me comfortable on the field and urged me to take advantage of my pace and movement.” Integral to both Mano Menezes and Dunga’s Brazil sides, where he lines up alongside Lucas, Dunga even went as far as to claim that Brazil’s defeat against Holland in the 2010 World Cup was due to the suspension of Ramires.

Ramires sustained a knee injury in the win over Everton at the weekend and should return for Chelsea’s trip to QPR at the weekend, although he is certain to miss the UEFA Champions League clash with Genk on Wednesday. His absence will be keenly felt. Still only 24, Ramires has become key for club and country as both Chelsea and Brazil look to promote youth and overhaul their ageing squads.

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