22 Defender Bayer 04 Leverkusen Brazil
Wiry, quick witted Wendell Nascimento Borges studied his art at Iraty before signing on for neighbours Londrina and subsequently loaning up the tables to Paraná and then Grêmio. The Fortaleza born left back made his debut for Imortal as a replacement for the equally bright Alex Telles, now at Inter of course, in a two goal victory at Náutico in September 2013. Remaining the most likely of the chasing pack to overhaul eventual title winners Cruzeiro, Gremio put in a splendid show in 2013 with a number of players enhancing their reputation. Amongst those on the ascent was the aforementioned Telles, a standout player throughout the season snapped up by Galatasaray in early 2014.
With his direct path to the team clear, Wendell stepped in as first choice left back for Gremio during their Libertadores campaign and was only absent for his team’s solitary defeat at the hands of San Lorenzo. Despite relatively limited experience, and having spent much of his fledgling career in the shadow of Alex Telles, Bayer Leverkusen were content that what they’d seen was good enough and shelled out the requisite €6m to secure his services.
Given a particularly torrid Bundesliga debut at the hands of Vieirinha and Kevin De Bruyne in a 4-1 defeat at Wolfsburg, Wendell returned to the starting eleven a week later and has remained in situ since.
2015 has been...
Good, but steady. A first goal for his club in a 4-0 win over Stuttgart in March was made to look relatively easy and clearly meant an awful lot to the young full back. A second bout of Champions League experience is underway, in which Wendell has acquitted himself particularly well, but league form for both club and player have proved to be rather scratchy at present.
An immediate concern are Bayer’s results of late and while Wendell is by no means the culprit for their recent troubles, he is an integral part of a defence that is leaking goals far too often. Switched to right back for the first time in his career in a recent home defeat to Köln pretty much sums things up.
Marca, reliable and accurate harbinger of as yet unfurled truths have already gone big on Wendell to Real Madrid and there is, perhaps, a degree of inevitability that the young full back will move to the top of the food chain sooner or later. How many times down the years have we seen big money paid for Brazilian defenders with the only justification being that they are Brazilian? As we saw last summer, that ain’t necessarily a thing anymore.
What is a little frustrating is that Wendell actually looks capable, and there are days when he appears equal parts Ashley Cole and Raheem Sterling. The problem, however, is that he is neither. Defensive responsibilities are infrequently nailed down while end product going forward is negligible. Wendell clearly has ability, but isn’t necessarily demonstrating the prowess to take charge. He needs to.
C- Looks a player, but isn’t looking a player often enough
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