Oscar will add Brazilian brains to Chelsea’s attack
Those looking for a potted history of the game in Brazil – or even the game full stop – could do far worse than trace the twisted bloodline of Brazil’s No10 shirt. From the wide-eyed, new-world wonder of Zizinho to Pelé’s global hegemony; from the technicolour swagger of Rivelino and Zico to the modern sparkle and extra-curricular excess of Ronaldinho, the player wearing 10 on his back has characterised the identity of the seleção through the ages.
All signs suggest that Chelsea fans will soon be revelling in the brilliance of the latest pretender to that creative throne. Oscar, a 20-year-old prodigy who looks set to finalise a move to Stamford Bridge in the coming weeks, may only be starting out in the game, but he bears all the hallmarks of a star in the making.
An elegant, two-footed midfielder, Oscar graduated from the São Paulo FC youth set-up before jumping ship to Internacional in 2010. He made fleeting incursions into the first team that season, but only truly established himself as a regular last year with a string of thrusting performances.
While initially impressing as an all-rounder in the middle of the park, Oscar has been used in more advanced positions over the past six months, both at club level and for the Brazil side preparing for the London 2012 Olympics. Not an old-school playmaker in the mould of, say, fellow starlet Paulo Henrique Ganso (although his passing is suitably crisp and his decisions intelligent), Oscar offers a mobile presence behind the striker. He will occasionally amble wide with Mesut Özil’s faux-innocence, but can also exploit a deceptive turn of pace to burst beyond the frontmen. This movement, coupled with his reliable, unfussy technique, makes him a constant nuisance for opposition defenders.
Oscar’s talents have endeared him to his coaches. Brazil boss Mano Menezes heaped praise upon the youngster last week, telling Chelsea fans that they can expect “a very intelligent player”. Dorival Júnior, under whom Oscar thrived at Inter, has been similarly gushing: “Oscar is a modern player. He’s complete; he marks, he gets involved, he scores goals and he’s always moving. And he can get even better.”
How, though, would he fit in at Stamford Bridge? His familiarity with the now omnipresent 4-2-3-1 formation should serve him well under Roberto Di Matteo, with the youngster more than capable of occupying any of the positions behind the striker. While competition for places is likely to be stiff (Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Juan Mata, Kevin De Bruyne and even Ramires will be in contention for those three spots – and that’s if Chelsea don’t renew their interest in Hulk), Oscar has already proved that he is no shrinking violet: for Brazil, he has made the no10 shirt as his own despite the claims of Ganso, Jádson and Hernanes.
While Oscar let slip this week that he has already undergone a medical at Chelsea, fans will have to wait until after the Olympic tournament to see the youngster in a blue shirt. However, London 2012 should be a tasty amuse-bouche. Oscar comes into the tournament in good form, having impressed in Brazil’s warm-up games. He is also fairly fresh, due to a contractual wrangle between Internacional and São Paulo that saw him miss part of the former’s state championship campaign.
The signs are positive, then, for Chelsea fans, who can look forward to an exciting addition to their growing Brazilian contingent. While still developing, Oscar is a player who has garnered nigh-on unanimous praise in his homeland. “Put it this way,” said Menezes recently. “He wears the No10 for Brazil and we don’t give that shirt out to just anybody.”
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