The Ganso Saga: Hope and Grief

It’s been a wild summer in MLS. Weve seen players such as Giovani Dos Santos and Pirlo signed, while seeing multiple high profile players linked with the league. One of those high profile players is Paulo Henrique Ganso. Better known as Ganso, he has eight caps for Brazil, an exquisite touch, and a demeanor, talent combination any club in the world would like to have.

With that being said, the internet exploded a week ago when globoesporte reported Orlando City was pursuing Ganso amid São Paulo financial troubles. Cool, right? Well, then, optimism grew as terra claimed Ganso was being pursued as a sort of collateral from Kaka’s previous loan to São Paulo. São Paulo owed money to Orlando from the Kaka loan. Orlando were allegedly never paid. Soon, we’d know for a fact, Orlando were indeed never paid. Reports out of Brazil continued. This time, ESPN Brazil claimed that if Orlando’s Ganso offer was not accepted by Thursday, July 23rd, Orlando City would go ahead with a lawsuit in order to collect São Paulo’s debt instead. Sure enough, Thursday, Orlando City released a statement saying negotiations for Ganso were closed and that they’d “pursue a collection lawsuit for the non-payment of all the commitments owed by São Paulo FC as part of the loan deal of the player Kaká.”

So, at least for the time being, it doesnt seem Orlando City will land Ganso. However, is that a bad thing? It’s a valid question. Many will think and have thought a player like Ganso is a no-brainer for any MLS team. That isnt a completely comprehensive conclusion if we’re to be honest. When we’re talking designated players, it’s important that the player fits in a team’s specific system, whether that be focused on formation or how a team executes tactics within a formation. It’s not that Ganso doesnt match the style of football that Orlando City strives for, it’s that he simply doesnt fit into the team’s current system and formation specifically.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s explain why Ganso doesnt seem overly ideal. Ganso is a central attacking mid, or number 10. Excuse me, I meant to say Ganso is only a number 10. Though Kaka used to be a bit more versatile, most people would be inclined to say the same thing about him now. Since that is the case, if Ganso were to be signed, something’s got to give, heavier than Jack Nicholson. Adrian Heath usually, if not always, implements a 4-2-3-1 for The Lions, one which the side is very attached to now. Considering this, it could be detrimental to change formations to accommodate Ganso, especially approaching the three-quarters mark in a season. Not to mention, it could end up alienating Kevin Molino, arguably one of Orlando’s most important players, from the line-up once he returns from injury. Any formation change accommodating Ganso would likely narrow Orlando’s attacking force and force wide players out of the line-up entirely. The most likely scenario, if he were to sign, would be for either Ganso or Kaka to play wider, and it’d likely be Ganso. There are multiple issues that could arise with this as well.

If you’ve ever seen Ganso play, you’ll know he’s burdened with a lack of athleticism. It may be conjecture but one could say it’s the reason why he’s playing in Brazil, isnt playing overseas, and isnt a part of the Brazilian National Team any longer. He still has a great deal of skill and was one of Brazil’s top young talents for that reason but to put it into perspective, he may just well be slower than Kaka and he’s eight years younger. Again, there’s no questioning his skill, but in order to play wide in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the relative combination of athleticism and skill has to exist. We cant say for certain that he’d struggle with tracking back out wide but on paper it seems worrisome. On that same paper, all of Lewis Neal, Eric Avila, and Carlos Rivas may just be better in that category. This certainly isnt definitive but it’s absolutely worth talking about and a possible concern. Let’s not forget too, MLS is physically demanding, to say the least. You also just dont get as much of an influence from Ganso out wide, he’s comfortable as a 10 and simply is not a wide player.

But dont get us wrong, Ganso would be a lift to any team in the league and it’s tough to say he wouldnt be in Orlando as well. We’re not saying he wouldnt but it’s also tough to say he’d be that ideal for Orlando. Regardless, it doesnt look like it’s happening, so this may be a moot point. Or, is it?

The latest on Ganso comes from R7TV in Brazil, where his agent says Ganso wants an Orlando City move. So, the Ganso saga might not quite be over. Whatever comes from all of this, it will be interesting nonetheless. The only way it becomes completely uninteresting is if Orlando fails to sign another designated player this summer. If it comes to this, is it better to have Ganso than no other designated player? It probably is better to have Ganso but this is Orlando City. There are likely a few aces up that sleeve. With that being said, hold your grief until the transfer window closes on the 6th of next month Orlando fans, not that you necessarily are grieving, or biting your nails, or doing whatever it is Lions do.

(image courtesy of Mowa Press)