Pampered Piazon sums up football’s next generation
The majority of the football world was blissfully ignorant of the life and times of Lucas Piazon until he took it upon himself to criticise his elders and betters at Chelsea for “lacking guts” during their loss to Corinthians in the final of the Fifa World Club Cup.
For the benefit of those who have never heard of him, a thumbnail sketch: Piazon is, like Kaká – a player he resembles physically and technically – a product of the São Paolo club. He joined Chelsea’s academy in March 2011, but was unable to obtain a work permit until his 18th birthday, on 20 January this year.
Chelsea have invested £10m in his potential, which has been glimpsed at first-team level in two cameo appearances in the Capital One Cup. I’ve seen him in youth and developmental matches; he is neat on the ball and capable of playing as a striker or an attacking midfield player. He has a good range of passing and is effective from set pieces, but he doesn’t make you catch your breath.
The fact he felt entitled to condemn players who have won the Champions League – “the team went to the pitch with no desire. It’s unacceptable” – tells us everything we need to know about the mindset of an emerging generation of young players, who are treated as commodities before the angst of adolescence fades.
The balance between the necessity of self-confidence and a sense of entitlement is increasingly difficult to maintain. Piazon typifies the new breed’s ignorance of the conventions of their trade. He has been pampered since the extent of his talent became apparent, at the age of eight. He wants it all and he wants it now.
Once upon a time, young footballers, like Victorian children, knew their place. They were seen and not heard. They cleaned boots, scrubbed the dressing-room floor. They began to understand the privileges of their profession and the underpinning principles of mutual respect. Now anything, and everything, is at their disposal.
This produces a Daniel Sturridge, who seems destined for a nomadic career of lucrative underachievement, but the problem is by no means restricted to Chelsea. A senior professional of my acquaintance had to be pulled off one ingenue, whom he considered to have ideas above his station.
I happened to be with one of Piazon’s advisers on Sunday evening, when news of his indiscretion filtered through. He was appalled and anxious to limit the backlash. Key figures in the Chelsea dressing room, such as John Terry, Frank Lampard and David Luiz, will doubtless tell the young Brazilian his fortune.
He is a very lucky boy – and an apology would not go amiss.
Follow Mike Calvin on Twitter @CalvinBook
Follow Life’s a Pitch on Twitter @BTLifesaPitch
Watch Chelsea live on BT Vision:
Leeds v Chelsea, 7pm, 19 December, Sky Sports 1 (Capital One Cup)
Chelsea v Aston Villa, 3.30pm, 23 December, Sky Sports 1
Don’t have BT Vision? Find out how to get it