Q&A on Lucas Moura for Manchester Evening News
I recently answered some questions on Lucas Moura for the Manchester Evening News. The article can be seen here, but below are all the questions and my answers.
MEN: First of all – for those who haven’t seen him, how would you describe Moura and who has been most likened to in Brazil?
JC: He’s a pacey middle winger/attacking midfielder and very exciting when he takes on defenders. Moura has bags of raw talent, excellent footwork, great dribbling skills and a good shot but is a long way from the finished article. For an English comparison, think of a Theo Walcott type but Moura sits deeper.
Moura is not what you would call a creative player/midfield maestro spraying the ball around from a deep position. Running at the opposition is when he’s at his best. If he does make a move to the Premiership, he will also have to work on the defensive side of his game as right now this is non-existent.
MEN: How has he come to prominence and what has he achieved so far?
JC: Moura burst onto the scene two years ago. Some great flashes of skill and some spectacular goals got everyone talking. He scored a hat trick versus Uruguay in U-20 South American Championship in Peru and that also helped get him noticed. Moura also won the U-20 World Cup with Brazil in 2011 but has yet to win anything at club level.
MEN: Do you know the details of United’s interest? How long they have been watching him and when they first registered a bid?
JC: Apparently, the original bid was made almost two months ago. But the news only came out last week when the deadline set by United on a decision from São Paulo was reached.
United have an excellent scouting set-up in South America, and in particular, Brazil, so they would have known about him from his days at Corinthians juniors before he even switched to São Paulo. However, the interest in Moura and the huge fee is a little unusual because United have recently focused on spotting and then developing teenage talent at a younger age and for a fraction of the price (think of the twins and Possebon). Exactly when United decided that Moura was for them is anyone’s guess. If they did have Moura on the radar when he was younger, you have to wonder why they didn’t go for him when he was much cheaper. He is not the biggest of players and perhaps United were not completely sure he had the physical and mental strength to compete in the Premier League?
MEN: What is São Paulo’s stance with him? we understand they have rejected as many as three bids from united. are they in a position where they need to sell, or will they be happy to keep hold of him?
JC: There has been a lot of speculation in the press and a degree of disinformation from some of the involved parties regarding the proposed deal, so it’s difficult to know what to believe. Two bids were supposed to have been made – United are reported to have offered £23 initially and then a follow up £29 million – São Paulo are believed to be holding out for a figure closer to £40 million. Moura’s official buyout clause is £62 million.
There is not a single Brazilian club that doesn’t need money but obviously São Paulo feel they can hang on. The official reason São Paulo turned down the bids is that they want Moura to help them win some silverware – something they haven’t done since 2008. The pressure is on São Paulo as arch-enemies Corinthians have just won the Libertadores, Palmeiras have won the Copa do Brasil, Santos the São Paulo state league. However, the argument doesn’t really stand up as São Paulo have come nowhere near to winning anything with Moura in the side – plus the club could invest in five or six quality players using the United money.
After reportedly being against the player’s sale, São Paulo president, Juvenal Juvêncio, has relented after coming under pressure from within the club. The question is now agreeing a price.
Anecdotally, the feeling amongst most São Paulo fans is that they are bewildered their club have turned down the offers. Moura has done Ok but has hardly set the world alight in two years as a pro. In his defence, his opponents are aware of his pace and he is heavily marked – perhaps he could excel at United in a slightly different position.
Incidentally, there’s more unrest amongst the supporters after São Paulo lost 4-3 away at strugglers Atlético-GO on Wednesday and they are demanding more players.
MEN: I understand his contract means that as of August 1st he will have a right to 30% of any transfer fee – will São Paulo try to push through a deal before then and could this play into United’s hands?
JC: Currently, he has 20% and São Paulo 80%. Obviously, São Paulo will lose out after August. So if anything they may want to increase the fee.
MEN: Does Moura appear to have a preference where he goes? is he happy to continue his development in brazil?
JC: Moura has wisely said very little. His agent, Wagner Ribeiro, is the man making all the noise. Clearly Ribeiro wants a move so he can get his cut. Ribeiro is frustrated with São Paulo and has already demanded more money for the player (and therefore himself) if he ends up staying at the Morumbi.
What Moura wants is unclear. He has said he’s happy at São Paulo while apparently told his agent (Wagner Ribeiro) to keep talking to United. In the past, he has said that he wants to be the best player in the world (a dream I’m sure we’ve all had).
MEN: Do you know how much he earns currently?
JC: He is reported to be on £37,000 a month. This will rise to £41,000 in August
MEN: What is his background? Is he from a footballing family?
JC: He’s from a modest background. No football connections. Moura started his playing career at São Paulo using the name Marcelinho (a nickname picked up because he used to train at a football school set up by former player Marcelinho Carioca. Moura’s friends said he looked a bit like the ex pro) – he changed it back to Lucas shortly after turning pro.
MEN: Is he the most exciting prospect in brazil at the moment?
JC: No. That’s Neymar by a distance. The Santos man is streets ahead technically, has wonderful balance and is much more creative. He’s also a lot more expensive.
MEN: I wonder what the Brazilian attitude is towards united given kleberson’s failure to establish himself and Anderson’s problems with consistency. Would that be a concern for Moura?
JC: Dozens of skilful Brazilians ‘fail’ when they move abroad, so it would be nothing new. There’s always a Brazilian club that will sign them on loan.
Brazilians have no particular attitude to United regarding Anderson other than that when he played in Brazil, he was an attacking midfielder and many argue that United have turned him into an ‘inferior’ version by making him more defensive.
Kleberson is still playing and has just left Flamengo for Bahia.
I’m pretty certain that Moura will know all about United from Rafael and Fábio. He’ll also be aware that no Brazilian has ever really cracked the Premier League but I don’t think that will concern him.
MEN: A fee of £30m+ sounds excessive for a 19 year old. is he worth it?
JC: If the United scout in Brazil is pushing the move, it’s because he is convinced 100% that Moura is exactly right for the club. United will have listened very carefully to his assessment on Moura before making a decision. However, clubs, like all big institutions, have their political aspects amongst their different departments and it might be that someone further up the pecking order is behind the transfer.
When a club signs a 19-year-old, (Moura will be 20 in August) they are generally not looking at what he is now, they are looking at his potential – that’s assuming the club knows what they are doing of course.
Since he hit the scene almost two years, Moura does not appear to have improved radically. This, though, is normal for players of his age who have periods of improvement before stopping and then suddenly have spurts of progress again. Some players though, reach a peak at an early age and never progress.
Before making their offer, United would have asked themselves two very big questions: 1) has Moura peaked already 2) what kind of player can he become with the right kind of advice and training?
United appear to have decided that in a few years, this £30 million price tag will seem chicken feed.