Is Palmeiras’ Keirrison really worth all the hype?
Palmeiras forward Keirrison is one of the most talked about players currently operating in Brazil. He’s been compared to Ronaldinho Gaúcho and Ronaldo and not a week goes by without the youngster being linked with a big-money move to the likes of Real Madrid or Liverpool. But has he been hyped up out of all proportion?
As an 18-year-old, Keirrison, or K9 as he’s nicknamed, scored 12 goals in Coritiba’s promotion drive in the second division of the Campeonato Brasileiro in 2007.
Critics said this was a flash in the pan and that the skinny frontman would fail in the more demanding Série A. The result was that despite missing part of the Brasileiro through injury, Keirrison finished joint top scorer in the league with 21 goals (see them here) alongside over-30s Washington, then of Fluminense, and Santos’s Kléber Pereira. The numbers become even more impress when one considers he knocked in another 20 goals in all competitions for a rather limited Coritiba team.
Early this year came another test: a move to the high profile Palmeiras. Keirrison scored two on his debut against Mogi Mirim but could have had four or five. His record so far is a very productive eight goals from six games (5 in the Campeonato Paulista, 3 in the Libertadores).
Ok. So the opposition may not have been that brilliant so far. And three of his goals have been from the penalty spot. But the 20-year-old has already shown a remarkable versatility. Keirrison put away a marvellous chipped goal vs Mogi Mirim.
He reacted with a poacher’s instinct to nip in against two defenders in the away game at Real Potosí in the Libertadores. Admittedly, the forward dived to win the penalty against Santos in the recent derby. But just after the second-half resumed, Keirrison showed his speed of thought and movement when he pounced on a loose ball in the area and fired in. Against Mirassol in the Paulista on Wednesday evening, the player struck again with another excellent finish – this time a beautifully placed shot to the bottom right of the net.
But it’s not just his goal scoring ability that makes Keirrison so special. He also has the ability to connect with the talented players around him. Already K9 had formed a good understanding with Cleiton Xavier. Now an exciting partnership with the highly skilful (though inconsistent) Diego Souza could be on the cards.
At 1:81m (and growing) he’s not the tallest of forwards but does get his share of headed goals. But Keirrison is already aware that he needs to bulk up if he is going to be able to compete at a higher level and is working on it.
If you add to his attributes an excellent first-touch, good positional play and a knack of getting away from his markers, it becomes clear why Keirrison is on the shopping list of so many European clubs.
The only fly in the ointment for the Premier league teams is that the 20-year-old hasn’t appeared for Brazil. With one youngster, Alexandre Pato, already in the squad, it’s unlikely that Dunga will risk calling Keirrison up for any of Brazil’s World Cup qualifiers – unless there are injuries to the likes of Pato, Adriano, Luís Fabiano etc.
However, the Confederations Cup in South Africa in June this year is a possibility. But if for some reason Keirrison is overlooked then, Brazil have a friendly vs Estonia in August and that would be an ideal fixture to unveil the player to the world.
Under the tutelage of coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo, K9 can only improve. By the time his contract expires with Palmeiras in the middle of the year, Keirrison will be a much better player and his owners, the football management group Traffic and Coritiba, will be getting ready for a big payday.
Is Keirrison the real deal? You bet he is!
For more on Keirrison see Brazil: the talent factory