Image from: freelargeimages.com
Ganso Championship Manager ?
Paulo Henrique Chagos de Lima, better known as Ganso (goose), was born on 12th October 1989 in Ananindeua, Brazil. He was still just 6 years old when former Brazil international Giovanni spotted him and he was signed by Tuna Luso in 1996. At the age of 15 he moved on to Paysandu. Just a few months later in 2005 he signed for Santos.
His early days were marred by a long term injury and, in 2007, he returned from a 6-month injury lay-off to play in a victory for Santos in the final of the U-20 Campeonato Paulista. Ganso made his first team debut in 2008, a year ahead of Neymar, who he is often compared to as they played together for Santos. Ganso was considered at least the equal of Neymar while they were both at Santos, he even got compared to Zidane by some.
Probably his biggest fan was the great Socrates, who said of him: “Ganso is the greatest revelation Brazil has produced in the last decade, if Santos can hold onto Ganso they will have a monster team until he stops playing. They can sell the whole team, but keep him because he makes the team play.”
By 2009, Ganso was a first team regular for Santos and played for Brazil in the World U-20 Championship. The following year he was a big part of the 2010 Campeonato Paulista winning side and the Brazilian media were clamouring for Dunga to give him a chance in the World Cup squad. Dunga did name him as one of 7 back up players, but he never made it to the World Cup.
Dunga was replaced by Mano Menezes after the World Cup and he called him up in July for a friendly with USA. It was the 10th August 2010 that he actually made his Brazil debut. Though he was not able to do much more than hit a post during the game, it looked like a platform to build on. Unfortunately for Ganso, later in the month he was ruled out for 6 months as he required surgery on his left knee.
While Ganso was out, his ownership became more complicated as Santos offered DIS Group the chance to buy 70% of his image rights and the two parties soon ended up at loggerheads. In the end a court case established that DIS owned 45% of his sporting rights. Whether the dispute, the injury or just that he was not as good as first thought Ganso’s return to the international arena was not a success. He was a flop in the 2011 Copa America team in Argentina. Though Ganso was given another chance in the Olympics team the following year as Brazil won silver.
In 2012, Ganso’s relationship with both Santos and the fans hit rock bottom after Neymar got a huge new salary. A salary so large that the club had to shut down both their futsal division and their ladies football team to afford it! Ganso was not happy and demanded equal pay with Neymar, leading to the fans nicknaming him ‘Mercenario’ (Mercenary). Around this time a lot of reports were claiming that Ganso’s lack of form was down to his jealousy of Neymar though Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro said: “A large part of the fanbase isn’t happy with his performances. I’ve talked with Muricy Ramalho about this. He believes there is a physical problem. Ganso had a surgery and isn’t playing on a regular basis, so has to do muscle strengthening. Sooner or later he’ll be playing football again. I don’t know if it will be in a month or two.” It also should probably be pointed out that they are very close friends and Ganso is the godfather of Neymar’s son, he was even present at the birth.
Whether he was jealous or not, Ganso wanted pay parity with Neymar and, when that was not forthcoming, he started to agitate for a move away. In August Ribeiro said: “Bring the offers, but we won’t accept anything less than his buy-out fee. The player’s will always has to come first. It’s pointless to keep an unhappy player. I always respect the player’s will. I did that regarding Wesley, Andre, Jonathan, but Santos’ rights have to be respected, as per the contracts that were signed.” The buy out clause priced him at over £40m.
In September 2012 the 22 year old Ganso was sold to Sao Paulo for around £7.5m, plus a clause which would see Santos receive 5% of the profit if Ganso moved again within 2 years. Not quite the £40m Ribeiro was wanting! He signed a 5 year deal and was given the number 8 shirt, replacing Lucas Moura in the team, with a target to win back his place in the Brazil team which Oscar now held. Ganso seemed happy with the move: “It’s a dream come true. Ever since Sao Paulo showed interest in signing me I wanted to get the deal done. I can’t wait to get on the field.”
Despite Ganso’s claims of it being a dream move, he struggled to perform in a Sao Paulo shirt, though Clarence Seedorf, who was playing in Brazil at this time, put it down to Ganso lacking the dynamism and speed for top level football. In February 2014 Sao Paulo tried to boost him by giving Ganso the number 10 shirt, as Jadson was moved on in the deal that brought Pato to Sao Paulo. Ganso certainly seemed happy: “I am very happy to wear the shirt of Sao Paulo and, now, to be given the number 10 shirt. This number was already worn by so many good players and I feel an immense happiness to be among them. My playing is more traditional and I am told that a number 10 must know how to play in this manner. I think I will be able to combine the efficient with the aesthetic: classic football with the number 10 shirt.”
Despite the new number, the move was not working out and Ganso showed no signs of becoming the great player once forecast. Luis Felipe Scolari did not even consider him for the 2014 World Cup squad. Ganso could no longer even be considered to be in Neymar’s shadow or to deserve comparisons with Zinedine Zidane. Now he was just a forgotten man.
Over the next couple of years Ganso did manage a slight resurgence, which saw him called up to the Copa America Centenario squad in 2016, when both Douglas Costa and Kaka were ruled out with injury. Though he never made an appearance. It also saw Sevilla pay 10m euros for him in July 2016. Ganso said after signing: “I know I have to work hard. I come to Sevilla with a will to win titles. At 26 years of age I see myself as prepared to make the jump and do it well.” The problem is that what he knew he had to do and what he actually did differed. Ganso failed to impress anyone, except Steven Nzonzi who said: “Technically, he’s one of the best players I’ve ever worked with. He’s the Brazilian stereotype epitomised, he can change a game all by himself.”
Sevilla soon tired of Ganso and his huge technical ability strolling around failing to make an impact and he joined Amiens on loan for the 2018-19 season. The deal came with an option to make the deal permanent, but Amiens quickly decided they did not want him, either on loan or permanent and he returned to Brazilian football with Fluminese in January 2019. Ganso has not won a single Brazil cap since leaving Santos and has shown no signs of the player that Socrates believed him to be.
Written by Tris Burke January 10 2021 05:10:42