Lucas Moura 20 MidfielderSão Paolo
On paper, Lucas Moura’s transfer to PSG is quite incredible.
Now we’ll talk about the talent and potential in a minute, but just stand back and admire the job São Paulo have done here. Here is a player who they have nurtured into their first team and helped become one of the most exciting players in world football. With all due respect to them and we know all about the money coming back to the Brazilian game in general, the club realized quite quickly they were never going to keep him once Europe got wind of just how talented he obviously was. What they also cottoned on to immediately was that he may well solve a few financial problems if they played it reasonably cute and held out for the €20m+ they felt he was worth.
Come the summer transfer window of 2012 they knew the player was considering a move. São Paulo weren’t going to stand in his way but they also weren’t in a rush to negotiate for anything that wasn’t on their terms. The player’s father and agent travelled to Spain and enjoyed a tour around Real Madrid’s facilities by no less than Florentino Perez, he also then gave the requisite interview stating it would be a dream to play there. The trouble was almost as soon as their plane landed back in Brazil any move to the Bernabeu was off as Los Blancos wouldn’t pay anything like the quoted price of €25m.
Inter Milan were also interested but dropped out when figures were discussed, Manchester United now officially enter the fray. Initial offers were rejected but São Paulo knew how interested Fergie was and managed to push the fee up to a staggering €30m. Immediately several people (including the IBWM editing staff as they gathered around the water-cooler) asked the very same question – if Lucas Moura is worth €30m, just quite what is Neymar going to go for?
Then Lucas and his people did what some Manchester United fans now refer to as “a Ronaldinho”. Throughout the summer ‘talks’, ‘negotiations’, ‘fine details’ and ‘finishing points’ were discussed and it looked for all the world like sooner or later a move would be done. São Paulo remained quiet, fearful they might not get their €30m if things started to go south between the player and United but fingers crossed it all still looked on. Then the unthinkable happened.
The Manchester United deal was blown from the water as Paris Saint-Germain came in cash rich and still on a sugar high after spending a reported €102m on the combined talents of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Marco Verratti. Like a drunk at a bar gathering fair-weather friends with the contents of somebody else’s wallet, they made it clear just how keen they were to sign the player and São Paulo couldn’t believe their luck.
Now taking all we’ve said into account, consider the deal that São Paulo ‘reluctantly’ agreed to. Depending on who you choose to read when you enter the newsagents of a morning, the transfer was eventually worth between 42 to 45 million Euros.
We refer you above to where we told you initially they were hoping to get €20+ for the player.
Not only that but in a move that surely Manchester United would have dismissed immediately, PSG agreed to let the player stay at São Paulo essentially on loan until January. Double their original hopes and they kept the player for another 5 months – like we said on paper, a simply incredible transfer.
So with a deal swayed this far in the selling club’s favour, you have to hope that the player’s half-decent right?
Well Lucas is decent, more than decent in fact. On his day he’s a force of nature, a one-man panna machine who can pull off the outrageous, the sublime and the ridiculous, quite often all in the same run. We rarely say this of a young player because we reckon we could cut together a two-minute video that could portray just about any footballer in the world as a world-beater set to awful techno, but you must YouTube Lucas Moura. He can make you smile with a turn, rejoice with a dribble and leave you a quivering wreck with a rocket from distance that flies into the top corner.
He is immensely talented and does that thing where you’re not sure what just happened, but you know it was good. He’s powerfully built and difficult to out-muscle, the body of a lightweight boxer combined with the feet of a tap-dancer, and at 20 looks to have filled out enough to suggest he’s not going to spend his career struggling with his weight. Couple the talent with a wonderful directness that feels old-fashioned in these tiki-taka filled times. This is a man who enjoys getting his head down and going for goal no matter what or more presciently ‘who’ is in his way.
So this was a no-brainer, €45m sounds like a bargain yeah? Well, not quite and recent reports suggest even the player himself feels he’s been significantly overpriced.
You see in our description above the key phrase is perhaps ‘on his day’. He can be extremely inconsistent, lurching from the unbelievable for the right reasons to the worst in the space of the same move. The skill needs to be tempered with intelligence, you can take the world on as much as you want but if a team-mate of the likes of a Zlatan is in a better position, you can be sure longer-term he’s going to let you know about it.
Alex Ferguson let it be known he thought it was madness that ‘a club can pay €45m for a 19-year-old boy’ when the PSG deal went through and that’s what Lucas still is. He may look like a man but in footballing terms he has a long way to come to understand the nuances of the game and mature. European football is going to represent a huge step up for a player who has been in a São Paulo comfort zone for a while and blessed not to face the same level of attention Neymar copes with admirably. He has been moved to give several interviews dismissing his transfer fee already and having stated he’s ‘very nervous’ about joining in January. You wonder if the money has become a psychological-millstone already.
We hope not and we hope he keeps developing well. If he could play week in and week out like he does in those glorious YouTube moments, he may become one of the best players in the world. We suspect a definable level of ability will be found within a couple of seasons - where that bar is set is still very much open to debate and subject to how fast Lucas himself adapts and learns on his new adventure in Europe.
“Speedy, direct and has a powerful shot. Still a bit of a YouTube player, but certainly getting there.”– Jack Lang (Guardian, ESPN)
C Glorious but also frustrating, the transfer was made with good reason, let’s hope he proves it