Jose Mourinho has long been an admirer of Brazilian talent and Fred, the 100th signing of his career, follows in the footsteps of a number of his countrymen by linking up with the Manchester United manager.
The boss appreciates the flair and creative influence players from the South American nation often have instilled in them from an early age. Maybe part of this affection stems from watching the World Cup as a child, as he did once suggest he
“remembers little things from 1970”, when Pele and co illuminated the tournament in Mexico.
In a recent interview with ESPN Brazil, Jose said:
“I think a team without a Brazilian isn't a team. I think their talent is fantastic and the creativity of the Brazilian player cannot be measured. If a European team, like very much European, could have a Brazilian in their squad, it would bring a Brazilian 'thing' to the game and I think that's very important.”
By delving into the manager's historical records, it is clear this is a belief he has held for some time. Even when coaching Uniao de Leiria, he signed Maciel from Volta Redonda - a winger he would also purchase when moving on to Porto.
Centre-forward Derlei also switched from Leiria to Porto, becoming leading scorer and a key figure in the 2003 UEFA Cup triumph, and Fabiano Rossato was also signed from Nacional but Carlos Alberto arguably had the biggest impact with the 2004 Champions League-winning team, arriving from Fluminense earlier that year and scoring the opening goal in the final against Monaco.
In his first spell at Chelsea, Jose bought central defender Alex from Santos and Barcelona full-back Juliano Belletti, in addition to Alcides from EC Vitoria, even if he did not make a first-team appearance. During his extremely successful stay at Inter Milan, the boss added Lucio (Bayern Munich), Thiago Motta (Genoa) and Mancini (Roma) to his ranks. Motta initially represented his homeland before becoming an Italian citizen.
Next came the second stint at Stamford Bridge, with youngsters Kenedy and Nathan both 19 years old when departing Brazil for west London, with Kenedy impressing during a loan at Newcastle United towards the end of last term. Filipe Luis was drafted in from Atletico Madrid and, of course, Willian, like Fred a former Shakhtar Donetsk man, proved an astute purchase from Anzhi Makhachkala.
The clever forward came on as a late substitute in the Blues' 1-0 Emirates FA Cup win over United last month and is expected to be influential for the Selecao in Russia.
So it has long been obvious that Mourinho loves the spark supplied by Brazilians and the unpredictability they can bring to a team. Fred has forced his way into the national team and it will be fascinating to see how he performs in Tite's World Cup side, having been earmarked for a key role in next term's United line-up.
It would be wrong to suggest it is flair alone that attracts the manager to such players - many of those mentioned had real character too and a wiliness and determination to their game that could only be developed being brought up in street football in South America.
The old-fashioned notion that Brazilians are free spirits with a lack of tactical nous has long been forgotten - the modern player from the great footballing nation appears disciplined and able to fit into a variety of systems, while retaining the ability to open the game up and make things happen.
Jose is not alone in admiring talent from the record five-times World Cup winners and there is a real buzz of anticipation around this latest signing. Let's hope he delivers once he gets his United career under way.