Defender | Cruzeiro | Brazil
When things are done well they tend to appear easy. A clearance by Ronnie O’Sullivan has you believing you can amble down to your local snooker hall and knock in a fifty break no bother. Relaxed sports punditry gives the false impression of three guys just sitting around shooting the breeze.
Murilo Cerqueira Paim makes defending in the fiery environs of the Campeonato look like an early morning jog with the rising sun on your back and a countryside view ahead. It’s routine; straightforward. It’s almost ABC. An in-built radar for danger rarely fails and when it blips he steps across and cuts out the through-ball or delivery from out wide. If an opponent is in close proximity they are brushed aside because this is a muscular presence. Once in possession he makes the simple, right pass to a team-mate. Oh, and he almost always stays on his feet.
We’re talking basics here but basics done to a high and consistent standard.
Born and raised in São Gonçalo dos Campos, an industrial stronghold of Brazil, Murilo came up through the Cruzeiro youth ranks from a raw, homesick kid to the potential colossus we see today. He has been compared to Sergio Ramos and yes, fair enough, there is a combative element to his defensive sensibilities. But there is also a touch of the Alan Hansens about him too in that everything is done with the minimum of fuss. That’s a rare gift these days.
2018 has been…
…blighted by injury. Or at least the second half of it has. Having made his way into the first team last year by virtue of injuries to Manoel and Dede the 6ft 2 centre-back has now succumbed to fitness issues himself and a recurring problem from September onwards has frustratingly come on the back of a slight dip in form.
It’s out of his hands of course but this is an unusual case of poor timing from Murilo because until recently it was all going so well. He’d established himself in the Cruzeiro set-up and full international honours loomed. His reputation as a top notch stopper, blessed with stature, pace, and instinctive positioning was blossoming.
Thankfully his calm aura on the pitch derives from a composure of character off it. The tall Brazilian will be back on track in no time.
Given that he is surely destined to follow his fellow Cruzeiro alumni such as Maxwell, Jonathan and Luisao to Europe it is pertinent how quiet the rumour mill has been thus far.
Tepid links to Benfica persist while Inter reportedly tested the water with a low bid of €4m prior to the player’s set-back. It will take at least double that for the Belo Horizonte side to even consider losing their best asset.