Exciting youngster Zezinho still has a steep learning curve ahead

Brazilian football expert Roberticus runs the rule on Arsenal’s potential new recruit, Juventude’s Zezinho.

When approached by The Arsenal Column to give a profile of new Arsenal youth recruit, Wellington and the potential transfer Zezinho, I was aware that my insight would be hindered by that common gripe of domestic Brazilian supporters; namely that the players, like 17-year old Wellington, simply leave the country before fans have had a chance to enjoy their performances for the club. This is a trend which is intensifying: Grêmio fans once marvelled at Ronaldinho’s contributions until he was 20-year old and moved to Paris Saint Germain, but he did so having featured in a Copa America, the Sydney Olympics and on the back of at least two seasons’ competitive league football. Anderson, later of Porto and now at Manchester United, managed put in a solid season with the club and will remain in the gremistas’ memory as the player who led them to promotion in 2005 as an 18-year old. But most Fluminense fans have probably never heard of Wellington, nor indeed the Da Silva twins who are now at Old Trafford. In that sense at least, such teenage players will emerge effectively as genuine products of rain-soaked English soil as opposed to sun-kissed Brazil.

We are also faced with the likelihood that these two players might pass through London Colney and emerge markedly different to the style which they presently exude. After all, when Denilson Neves was at Sao Paulo he played in a more advanced role, as tends to happen with most skilful Brazilian ball players; the central midfield roles being the preserve of dogged and destructive holders. However, Wenger and his staff appear to have helped Denilson reach a happy medium at which he can comfortably perform. Somewhere between an auxiliary central midfielder and a left-of-centre all-rounder, he can easily slot into the 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 variants employed by the Gunners.

18-year old Zezinho is different somewhat, playing even further forward either as a No.10 or sometimes as a second-striker. He doesn’t have the physique, stamina nor positional discipline to play in a midfield two. Perhaps he could cut it as the more creative element in a three after undergoing a few years’ physical and tactical development, but again there is little in his game to evoke a budding Aaron Ramsey; Zezinho, being more impulsive and ephemeral, doesn’t exhibit what Arsene Wenger referred to as “ a science to his game” that Cesc Fàbregas did at a similar age. In some respects, of the current Arsenal crop perhaps he most resembles Jack Wilshere at least positionally and in terms of movement. In his penultimate game for Juventude in Brazil’s Serie B, I watched his coach Ivo Wortmann slightly alter the shape by beefing up the midfield and relocating Zezinho almost to a secondary-striker role alongside the No.9. Apart from one or two flashes, the guri (‘lad’ in gaucho dialect) from Santa Rosa was visibly uncomfortable at having to play so close to the defenders and also at having to run into channels and create space for his teammates. Nimble without electric pace, yet neither molded in the dépêche elegance of a Riquelme, a more tangible comparison would be with Diego of Juventus or Pablo Aimar. In other words, he was born to fill the classic No.10 shirt. The problem facing Zezinho, of course, is that Arsenal do not indulge such a free role. Many people have observed that these are challenging times for No.10s of all descriptions. Modern football dictates, understandably, that they adapt their game by taking up new positions or else fall by the wayside; hopefully without losing their creative essence. Suffice to say, there will be a steep learning curve ahead for this exciting young prospect.

As for Wellington, I can only go on previous performances such as in the Manchester United Premier Cup where his burst of acceleration and exquisite finishing caught the plaudits. Again, physiologically he will need to develop no matter where he plays; shudder the thought of him suffering constant niggles à la Theo Walcott and other slight-framed players. He should thrive in either a mobile second striker in a 4-4-2, a position he will be accustomed to from Brazil, but his attributes could also serve him well as an outside forward in the 4-3-3.

It’s a long road ahead, but let’s wish both these lads the best of luck in their respective careers safe in the knowledge that they will be surrounded by the finest environment for youth development, both in terms of illustrious staff and peers.

When not leading the troops of the Novus Invicta Legion, Roberticus muses on the finer tactical details of the beautiful game.


26 thoughts on “Exciting youngster Zezinho still has a steep learning curve ahead

  1. Great article Roberticus. I have always been reading your articles at Santapelota regularly.
    I think Zezinho will not sign for Arsenal. We have instead signed Wellington. I dont know much about both of them. Here is a video I found on Wellington, where he showcases his skill with the highlight being a ‘no look pass’.

  2. By the way, doesn’t Samuel Galindo look a tasty prospect too. Reminds me of a combination of Vieira and Fabregas on the ball (although off it more like Vieira which is not a bad thing might I add). Overall, Edu anyone?

    “Galindo is a player who has good technique. He’s intelligent, 6ft 2ins tall, left-footed with good stamina. He is a central midfielder who can give good balls. He has good vision too which we like here.”

  3. This Galindo looks like a prospect indeed. My personal comparison would be a cross between Vieira and Redondo, with a pinch of Xabi Alonso. Nice blend if you’d ask me.

    Shame that the Zezinho deal probably will fall through. On the other hand, he would’ve probably competed with Wilshere over the same role: right winger/ second striker. Based on the videos, I’d take Wilshere over Zezinho any day of the week, twice on Sundays.

    Wellington > Robinho (says it all for me, future world beater)

  4. Look like talented youngeters.

    However I’m more concerned with the here and now. Vela was tipped as being world calss etc. and at present he hasn’t amounted too much

    South Americans don’t typically do that well in the premier league, but we will soon see

    1. Vela hasn’t even begun and you’re writing him off?
      I swear some Arsenal supporters were dropped on their heads as babies.

      1. I’m not writing him off. As ever alot of Arsenal fans keep thinking about ‘years to come’. I have heard for 5 yrs now that our future is going to be great and this player or that player will be Arsenal legends etc.

        I am talking about the here and now and at the present time (2009-10 season) Vela has not impressed me very much. He has pace but his finishing is lacking. I fully understand that he has time on his side but we seem to be saying that an awful alot about an awful lot of players.

        I personally hope this nucleus we have stays around for the next 5 – 10 yrs and we may indeed end up quite a success in terms of trophy wins. However, as I say, the here and now is what counts for me.

    2. I promise you, Carlos Vela will become a goal machine, he will play on the left of a foward 3 nd will become an arsena great. The problem he has at the moment is that arshavin is ahead of him, but going by recent arshavin perfrmances I think carlos will get his chance in the coming weeks.

      1. I would love nothing more than Vela to turn into a gol machine. But at present he doesn’t impress me except his pace.

        He had some excellent chances against Olympiacos, for example, and fluffed them. That did not show me he was a cool, calm, classy, composed finisher. Yes I’ve seen his goals in the carling cup, but in those games he’s played lower league opposition and the pressure is very much off.

        I need him to perform under pressure

  5. Um the Brazilian fans need to understand that the Brazilian club are partly responsible for Foreign clubs coming in for these players at extremely young ages before they get to showcase their skills for their home town club. GREED!!! It use to be that a talented young brazilian could play for his brazilian team until about 20 to 23 and then move to a midlevel ueropean club for a reasonable fee. Play there a couple years and then if they are good enough, they would move on to the cream of the crop clubs. Now days as soon as a young player plays 1 game, he club pronounces him the “new ronaldinho” or “New ronaldo” and tries to make 20 million off of him. Unfortunetly this hurts the players developement and puts crazy pressure on a young footballer that has just started his career. This also pushes big clubs into acting faster and signing these players up at a younger age before their price gets inflated. Brazilian clubs and fans need to think about it before they through out complaints towards ueropean clubs. It isnt always as obvious as it looks.

    1. That is a fair point, though honestly I don’t think the Brazilian fans are so naive about this. Brazilians live in the economic real world and know as well as anybody that life is not fair.They know that their clubs benefit too from the revenue raised by sales! I think that, if there is any resentment, it is held against agents and third party ownership which plays havoc with the supporters’ emotions, coaches’ planning and even the league timetable. Oh, and there is widespead awareness that this is all facilitated by incompetent club directors who invariably have shady relationships with these third-party owners.

  6. Wellington greater than Robinho. A little early to predict that. I feel bad for Robinho a little bit and feel he is becoming the biggest waste of talent in football. He is a extremely exciting player to watch and is extremely unique and talented. Unfortunetly he is being ruined by Coaches wanting to change who he is. He isnt a good tackler and he isnt a simple player. He is very creative and players with the “Samba” style and mentality and what I dont get is, why would you sign him if you did not want that. You knew exactly what kind of player he was. The guy finishes 4th in the Premier league in goals last year and people still complain. I hope he gets a transfer to a situation that fits him because we are truly missing out on seeing a sumpremely talented player perform like he can.

    1. I duno that hes wasted THAT much. Of course hes not a tackler, but I dont often see him played in positions where he has to be responsible for that side of it.
      Adriano is a bigger waste of talent. Seriouly he has everything ibrahimovic has and more, yet hes nowhere atm.

  7. Robinho is a sub at man city this year. He was litterally subbed on today in the first half for an injured player then subbed off in the 60th minute. At Man city they want him to be a player he is not. Adriano thing is personal issues, that messed up his career. I am talking more of a footballing situation.

  8. Robinho would fit into arsenal so well,i think if the proposed barca move fails for him,wenger should step in, i reckon city have had enough of him and would get rid whatever the cost,wenger should put in a sneaky bid…

    1. madness, we have too many players of the same mold, arshavin, nasri, rosicky, vela, wilshere… robiho would just add to the list ad mean we have no money at all to spend on what really needed, our own drogba.

      Seriously guys, all we need is a dominating CF that takes 2 defenders to mark and leaves spaces for arshavin and co to exploit. Robinho does not fit in to this plan.

  9. I completely agree. Robinho would fit great into how we play. I am sure Man City would not mind getting rid of him only problem I see is you know his wages are ridiculous and Man City so Robinho would have to choose either saving his career or having bucket loads of money.

  10. Thanks Roberticus and thanks, as usual, to this great site.

    I’m not overwhelmed with enthusiasm based on this excellent and sober analysis. But I’d much rather have an accurate description from which to build expectations than expectations based on media based hype.

    Thanks again!

  11. Robinho at Arsenal would be great although it is not possible. He should play on the left and Arshavin should be moved to the right. Wellington seems to have great potential. One problem with the south american players is that they need to go on loan immediately. If Wellington was under Wenger, Wenger would know what to do with him. Anyway, he needs to bulk up to succeed in the EPL. Galindo seems interesting.

    Brain-I have sent the mail.

  12. Zezinho or Wellington. I just want a player that will assist the others in taking us to the promise land.

  13. Again it just shows you that arsenals academy is not working. You think of all the players who are trying to break through even just into the reserves and they go and by a couple of foreigners. By advice to any kids at arsenal get your son out of that enviroment and get them into a programme that will benefit them playing first teAm football by the time they are 18. It’s so important no matter if your playing at a leveL that is either championship or first division, what your gaining is experience and match practice.I have seen parents talking about going to clubs like arsenal, my advice is stay Away from them

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