Transplanting rising Brazilian stars straight from their homeland’s labyrinthine league structures to the Premier League has long been regarded as playing Russian roulette with your transfer kitty, as the ill-starred likes of Kleberson or Barcelona’s Keirrison (one for Football Manager fans) have proved.
However, Arsenal fans have less reason to worry their side risk signing a player who will wilt amidst the rigour and pace of the English top flight than most, after it emerged that they are in advanced negotiations to sign Confederations Cup star Bernard from Atletico Mineiro for a fee in the region of £20m.
The youngster’s accomplished performances for the Selecao and the rapturous receptions he received from domestic fans already convinced of his genius in the tournament offered a taste of what Arsenal may be acquiring.
Becoming a first team regular for the Belo Horizonte outfit in 2012, he forged a dangerous attacking triumvirate with ex-European-based players Ronaldinho and Jo, helping himself to goals and assists – like the outrageous one in the video above – along the way.
Nonetheless, many players have failed to make a direct transition from the land of Samba to the more physically demanding top European leagues, having previously shone in just such as fashion. In recent years a spell of gentle adaption in Portugal has been the norm, with players like David Luiz gently transmogrified in a nation with which they share a common tongue.
Luckily for those who hold the Gunners’ purse strings, the North London club have an enviable record when it comes to pinpointing Brazilian stars that can make the jump straight from their native land to the English top flight in seamless fashion.
Bernard’s club Atletico Mineiro were relieved of defensive-midfielder lynchpin Gilberto Silva after a strong showing in the 2002 World Cup and Corinthians duo Edu and Sylvinho also became first team regulars as soon as they were afforded a run in the side.
All arrived during Arsene Wenger’s tenure at the club and offer plenty of encouragement that the Gunners will be signing a young talent who can make an impact sooner rather than later as they attempt to bridge the gap between themselves and the title chasing elite.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.