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Transfer Flops Number 1 – Jo from CSKA Moscow to Manchester City
Even before the Abu Dhabi era, Manchester City tried to make a transfer statement with a big-name Brazilian superstar signing. The blue half of Manchester was owned by Thaksin Shinawatra at the time, who was on the run from the law and the club had made a £33m loss. This had forced the club to take out huge loans and mortgage their next season’s Premier League TV payments to Standard Bank. The club did not even have the money to pay wages and were close to insolvency but still they went out and broke their transfer record to bring in Joao Alves de Assis Silva from CSKA.
Jo had starred as a youngster with Corinthians before CSKA Moscow snapped him up to play alongside Vagner Love in 2005. Over the next couple of years he established himself as their top striker, scoring 30 goals in his final season for CSKA, though he was only 21. However, despite the goals, Jo was desperate to leave Russia due to a number of racist incidents: “Once we had lunch at McDonalds and coffee was thrown at us by a Russian who does not like blacks. On the streets, locals make the sign of a cross at us. Now we have to eat out discreetly.”
In 2008, on the same day that Newcastle United signed Jonas Gutierrez, Manchester City completed the £19m signing of new club record transfer Jo, beating Valencia to the Brazilian’s signature. He was Mark Hughes’ first signing for City and beat the previous record of £13m spent on Nicolas Anelka back in 2002. The deal had been extremely difficult to complete due to Kia Joorabchian’s part-ownership of the Brazilian, as the rules in the English league had recently changed and no longer allowed players to have third-party ownership.
Jo signed a 4 year deal and Hughes said of him: “He’s a big talent and a young man with a big future. A lot has been said about him and there was a big expectation on him coming out of Brazil. So with the success he’s had I think it’s a real coup that we’ve been able to bring him to the club. He’s a big guy, in stature and in ability, so I think everybody will enjoy watching him play.”
However there had already been signs of problems as his one Brazil cap in a friendly versus Turkey the previous year was his last for a while after a falling out with national manager Dunga. Jo had been part of the Brazil U-23 team that won a bronze at the 2008 Olympics, despite the problems with Dunga at full level. However it is still a worrying sign that no one heeded because of his goals.
The English leagues were a shock to him, Jo later admitted that both he and Robinho, who joined the club that season as well, were surprised by the sheer physical size of Premier League players. Jo said in an interview recently: “Then Robinho said: ‘Jo, what the hell, are we going to play football or rugby? Look at the size of these guys!’ I laughed and said: ‘Robinho welcome to the Premier League. And it gets worse!’ He was terrified before the match, but everything ended up really well. We played fine and won 6-0. Robinho had a great start, scoring a goal and giving three assists. I also managed to score my first goal for City. Thank God we were playing football. If we played rugby against those Portsmouth guys, we were screwed!”
That first season was a real struggle for Jo to even break into the City team and he featured just six times in the first half of the season. Hughes was clearly not impressed and in January 2009 he signed Craig Bellamy to replace him and Jo moved to Everton on loan on transfer deadline day, 2nd February. City continued to pay his wages. Everton were in desperate need of a forward as Yakubu, James Vaughan and Louis Saha had all suffered long-term injuries.
Jo did enough for the Toffees in his 12 appearances, scoring five goals, to convince David Moyes to go back in for him in the summer. A deal was agreed to take him on a loan with option to buy deal for the 2009-10 season. Jo himself admitted he let himself down: “There was an episode at Everton when I had hurt my ankle and I asked David Moyes if I could come back to Brazil to speed up treatment. I came back here and didn’t have any treatment, I did other things. I told him I was fit to face Chelsea. I played from the start in London and I didn’t play well at all. I was in pain and I hid it from him and he found out. And he was very angry. I had opportunities but I wasn’t focused. I didn’t take care of myself off the field. I didn’t rest, I didn’t train properly. It was immaturity.”
He finally signed his ticket out of Everton when he returned to Brazil over Christmas without permission and Jo returned to City with his tail between his legs. The problem was that he was still unwanted in Manchester and so a deal was agreed on the same day to loan him to Galatasaray for the rest of the season. Once again he did not do enough to earn a permanent move and returned to Manchester at the end of the season.
With little interest in his services from elsewhere, he was given one last chance in the Man City team but managed just 3 goals in 23 appearances, two of them coming against Cypriot side Nicosia Omnosia in the UEFA Cup. At the end of the season he was offloaded to Internacional, back home in Brazil, but a year later in 2012 he moved on again to another Brazilian side, Atletico Mineiro. He had managed to restore his place in the Brazilian national team, but indiscipline off the pitch ended his international career in 2014 with just 20 caps and 5 goals. It also saw Mineiro release him in November of that year due to his constant disciplinary issues, but they reinstated him a couple of months later in January 2015 as manager Levir Culpi tried to give him another chance.
Jo’s time at Mineiro came to an end soon after as the club missed salary payment dates and he moved to Dubai club Al Shabab on a 3 year contract in 2015. Once again he did not last long and in 2016 he moved to Chinese side Jiangsu Suning and then back to Brazil with Corinthians in 2017. However he was a changed man by now, after admitting to alcoholism he would not even take a cup of beer offered to him during on-pitch celebrations after Jo helped clinch the league title for the club.
Since then he has moved to Japan to play for Nagoya Grampus in 2018, where he finally seems to have settled down. Nowadays Jo is more likely to be in the media discussing his past mistakes rather than due to current issues, often being asked about his time at City and why it all went wrong: “At CSKA, I played as a second striker, always changing position with my mate Vagner Love. But in the Premier League, I was the centre-forward. In England, you have got to have a lot of strength, because there’s contact between players all the time. I evolved a lot in England, tactically and physically, because the league there is very demanding in every way. Everything was new for me in England. I arrived in Manchester City as the club’s most expensive signing ever. After me, came Robinho, Shaun Wright-Phillips, and the team started improving. But my adaptation process to the Premier League was tough. I had come from the Russian Premier League, where CSKA was by far the most powerful team, and now I had to score goals in the world’s best tournament, against the world’s best defenders.”
The problem is that, whatever the reasons for it, Jo was so bad for City that their fans have a chant for him when he plays against them which goes: “You’ve got Jo, hahaha, you’ve got Jo, hahaha!” And that is what he will be remembered for when his career is over.
Ed001 reads this article in the below video
Written by Tris Burke May 01 2020 15:40:30