Lucas Moura, 19, São Paulo – Brazil

What is love?

That’s a report I did three months ago for Chelsea fan blog We Ain’t Got No History. At that time, Lucas was heavily linked to Chelsea. But now, he’s heading Paris to drink champagne under the Eiffel Tower. That’s silly season for you!

In the earlier years of last decade, Brazil was under a transition phase in the matter of producing world class offensive weapons. Most of the players who shone in football were pretty much at defense, like Marcelo from Real Madrid, Dani Alves from Barcelona and Thiago Silva from Milan. Brazil certainly suffered, watching two not-so-strong squads falling in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups due mostly to a lack of talent.

Seems like that transition days are over. Neymar is the most known “new hope of Brazilian ambitions”, and many others are on the shortlist. One of them is attacking midfielder Lucas Moura.

Lucas started playing at Juventus, a minor team of São Paulo, and then was offered to play at the youth ranks of Corinthians at ten. There he found an intense work at the weighing room due to his frame, besides a lot of his time at school being “eaten” by his routine at the club, which made his parents worry about him. As soon as his contract with Corinthians ended, Lucas went to São Paulo, where his parents found a better condition for his development not only as an athlete but as a person as well.

Lucas went on to become one of the best players of Copa São Paulo de Juniores 2010, an competition of youngsters where many players show their skill to climb up in the stages of his career. His performance helped him to become a part of São Paulo’s senior squad.

He didn’t get many chances as soon as he was moved, but when his former coach was sacked, Lucas got some playing time as a pro. Soon his skills guaranteed him a place as a starter in São Paulo. At the end of the Brazilian season, FIFA called him one of the best youngsters of 2010. His performances also guaranteed him a brand new contract, with a release fee of approximately €70 mi.

The player also saw his career at the national squad skyrocket, when he was called to play for the winning U20 Brazilian squad of South American U20 Tournament in 2011 and later that year, to the main squad.

When Lucas came up, many started to compare him to Neymar, what was pretty unfounded. Both of them are marvelous talents, but Neymar has more upside, flair and technique than Lucas. Their playing style also differ a lot: while Neymar is known for his variety of dribbling moves, Lucas uses his athleticism to win battles against his opponents.

His passing could find a bit of improvement, as well as his composure. Many times Lucas finds himself between few opponents to beat and a colleague free at his side and a bit of selfishness makes him lose the chance, the ball and his confidence. That doesn’t mean he’s selfish, but he certainly lacks some kind of vision.

Like I said earlier, Lucas’ main asset is his athleticism. He’s not much of a highlight dribbler like Neymar or Robinho, but he has a few moves in his bag. And his runs with the ball are pretty much terrific. Even though he’s only 1,72m and 66kg, you’ll see Lucas beat defenders much bigger than him with raw pace and speed – and sometimes even strength.

He often likes to dribble through the center of the pitch; that’s where he’s more comfortable. Doesn’t mean he won’t drift around the field looking for opportunities, but he’s just not as effective. That’s why he’s been much better when positioned as an AMC rather than as a FS or as a LW/RW. At least you can’t deny that: he’s pretty versatile.

His missed chances are also reflected in his not-so-powerful finishing. Even though he scored 9 goals last season at the Brazilian league – pretty much for a FS or an AM -, it doesn’t mean he has a superb finish like a poacher. Instead, he creates many chances, but doesn’t profit too much when he tries to bury them. But this season, he has been much more willing to distribute the ball rather than trying to solve anything by himself.

His aerial prowess tends to zero. He’s not pretty good in the air, and his positioning isn’t superb as well; you’ll find him offside very often, but I think that’s a trend among speedy AMCs. Except for the aerial part, the positioning is something workable as long as he tries to.

As a person, Lucas is incredibly the opposite of the usual footballer. Even though he lost his temper in a game last year after being chased and cursed by a DM throughout a game for the Brazilian Cup and got a red card after a discussion with him, that served as a leap for his development. He is shy and doesn’t seem much comfortable in his interviews. He declared he prefers staying at home playing videogames with his friends and long-time girlfriend rather than going to a party.

Like I’ve stated earlier, if PSG had closed the deal with a €30m fee, I’d be glad they did it. He has bags of potential, and it could turn out to be a bargain if he meets expectations. But €43m might turn out to be too much for a player of his stature. He’s not weak-minded, but unlike Neymar who has the personality to thrive when adversity comes, Lucas is much more low-key. That also reflects when he’s on the pitch. I’m not saying he’ll be a “flop”; no, it’s too soon to decide that, and he’s also too young to become one. But if PSG don’t get what they’re setting on him regarding expectations, that could turn out ugly not only for the club but for Lucas as well.

As for São Paulo, that deal was magnificent for them. No one expected that a club would their €40m demand, but PSG simply offered that plus a few change money to make them happy. That money could be used to hold on to some of their youth lads – watch out for Ademílson, who could become a very good player in the future – and sign a few key players for their (projected) Copa Libertadores run next year. We could also expect the “Kaká to São Paulo” rumors to explode in January.

And just to wrap it up, you can watch some of his highlight here and here!

2 Comments

Filed under Brazil NT, Reports, São Paulo, Thoughts

2 responses to “Lucas Moura, 19, São Paulo – Brazil

  1. Chris

    PSG move is bad news for Barcelona. Because if Lucas went for 45 million, how much will they have to pay for Neymar when the time comes? Lucas is a very good promising player, but far from the hype surrounding him, in my opinion.

    His short displays at the Olympics confirm what you say about his low-key character. While most of the substitutes come on pitch with the glory-grabbing attitude, he seems to be uninspired or just stressed. He might be a disappointment to PSG when most needed.

    That being said, of course all the best for him! The more Brazilian players in Europe, the more beautiful game it will be.

    • Neymar has a clause on his contract that says if he leaves Santos after 2014, he will do it for free. The only cost for Barça would be his wages. And I hope Lucas shines in France, even though I don’t have the feeling that he’ll be what everyone was expecting of him. Not that he will be a major failure like Robinho, but he won’t dispute the Ballon d’Or with Neymar like many pundits were saying when he started to shine in Brazil.

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