Manchester United lose out on Lucas Moura – but is he really worth £34 million?
One of the most prolonged transfer sagas of the year finally came to an end today when São Paulo agreed to sell Lucas Moura to Paris St Germain for £34 million (€43 million).
The fee tops the offer of around £30 million by Manchester United just a couple of weeks ago. But the rumours persisted and only last weekend it was being reported that Moura was on his way to complete a medical at Old Trafford.
Talks with United had been going on for several months but stalled because the Brazilians had been holding out for a figure closer to the midfielder’s buyout clause of £63 million. But pressure came from within the club and from large sections of São Paulo’s fans who were flabbergasted the offer had been turned down. Moura himself said that he was desperate to play for the Red Devils and these factors forced president Juvenal Juvêncio to reconsider and reopen negotiations with United. But as the deal stalled once again, São Paulo’s board looked like they’d be left with egg on their faces after losing out on United’s millions. Now the São Paulo board look like geniuses after Paris St Germain stepped in with what is an exorbitant fee for a 19-year-old who has yet to prove himself.
As part of the deal, the Brazil midfielder will be allowed to stay at São Paulo until the end of the domestic season in December even though PSG are set to stump up the cash in full four months before he moves.
Moura falls into that group of players who are rated more highly abroad than they are in Brazil. Most football journalists and the majority of São Paulo fans, are stunned that PSG have shelled out so much for the teenager.
There is no disputing the player’s ability. But while the comparisons with Brazil legend Jairzinho are valid, the claims that Moura is the ‘new Cristiano Ronaldo’ are well wide of the mark, and justifying the fee is going to take a lot of hard work and perhaps a number of seasons.
Now PSG have their man, it is going to be intriguing to see how the French club go about turning his undoubted potential into an effective weapon.
Lucas Moura backstory: Moura burst on to the scene in January 2010 when he was instrumental in helping São Paulo’s youth team win the prestigious Copa São Paulo de Futebol Júnior (São Paulo Junior Cup).
Moura’s professional debut came in August of that year and impressive performances and specular goals against Atlético Mineiro and Palmeiras put him on the map. The plaudits began to flow and São Paulo’s long-serving keeper, Rógerio Ceni, declared the youngster was one of the most talented midfielders to play for the club since Kaká and Júlio Baptista. Ceni wasn’t wrong in his assessment as Moura’s pace, trickery and surprisingly powerful shoot for a scrawny youngster, made him look like a real prospect for club and country.
Moura’s and São Paulo’s season, however, was to end in disappointment. The tricolor finished in a lowly 9th place with Moura striking just four goals. Soon after, rumours began to circulate that both club and player were unhappy. A row kicked off as São Paulo claimed that Moura had demanded a huge salary increase and for a while the player’s future looked uncertain. Contract talks were put on hold as Moura headed off to Peru for Under-20 South American Championship in February 2011. His stunning performance and a hat trick against Uruguay in the final instantly turned him one of the hottest properties in the world. Within days, Moura signed an improved contract with São Paulo who slapped a £63 million buyout clause on his head.
Expectations were high. But São Paulo botched their chances of winning silverware and just as importantly failed to qualify for the 2012 Libertadores. Moura’s tally of nine goals was a decent enough but the player once again failed to live up to his star billing. Apart from the odd flourish, Moura lacked consistency. After almost two years without a proper break, the midfielder had lost his sharpness. But instead of resting or benching him, São Paulo kept playing him when he was out of form and was suffering from fatigue.
Despite this, Moura picked up his first cap for Brazil’s senior side after coming off the bench against Scotland in March last year. Since then he’s been named in all but one of Mano Menezes’ squads (was left out of the Gabon & Egypt games alongside all other Brazil-based players). But the impact he was expected to make has not materialized and unlike his former Under-20 teammates Neymar and Oscar, Moura has had to be content with his role as bit-part player with Brazil.
© Jon Cotterill and Pitacodogringo’s Brazilian football site, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jon Cotterill and Pitacodogringo’s Brazilian football site with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.