Leandro Damiao: Why Tottenham Would Be a Smart Summer Move for Brazil Striker
It has been a rocky past 12 months for Internacional striker Leandro Damiao, with a post-Olympic Games loss of form now having extended for a worrying duration of time.
With each passing month his valuation is beginning to drop, and his Brazilian owners are more than willing to listen to offers. Indeed, only at the beginning of this month, club president Giovanni Luigi told reporters that it was "very likely" that the striker would play in England following the summer window. (ESPN)
The club mentioned by the official, once more, was Tottenham Hotspur.
Many sides have been linked with Damiao over the past two years, but it is the North London side who have been most consistently touted as a destination for the forward. (This recent Bleacher Report article tracks the timeline of the club's interest)
The club's interest in the player is real, while manager Andre Villas Boas has openly stated that he is an admirer of the player. Indeed, it has been said that the Spurs coach is a regular watcher of the Brazilian championship.
His post-January comments regarding no future bid for the striker, then, should probably be taken with more than a pinch of salt.
Marseille have this week been tipped to make a move for Damiao by Sambafoot, although finances may be prohibitive to their attempts, while Napoli are also frequently suggested as a possible destination with the Daily Mail reporting their interest back in February. The striker, though, would be well advised to join Tottenham if he is presented with a choice.
Spurs may have narrowly missed out on the Champions League qualification for next season, but it is clear that Villas-Boas has a side heading in the right direction. Over the past 12 months, they have signed a series of young and talented players and have shown great team spirit to win tight games late in the campaign.
If there were to be criticism of the Spurs side, then, it would be that they have not had a top class centre-forward to spearhead a formidable attacking line. Defoe has done well, but lacks physicality, while Emmanuel Adebayor has been a frustrating figure for much of the campaign.
It was a point made my rival coach Paolo Di Canio only this week, with the Sunderland manager suggesting that Spurs could even launch a bid for the league title if they should add another striker to their ranks.
Damiao, then, would be joining a highly ambitious side who would make him the centrepiece of their attacking unit. It is not an opportunity that will come along too often.
The Inter striker is a fine finisher and has shown intelligence throughout his senior career to position himself well, link with teammates and beat defenders one-on-one. His one deficiency, though, has perhaps been his hold-up play with his back to goal.
In Villas-Boas, he would have a manager who could help him improve in this respect. The Portuguese boss has brought about a noticeable improvement in Jermain Defoe's play in deeper areas, and is known to be tactically astute regarding the roles of individual players.
Given their common mother tongue, he should have little difficulty helping Damiao adapt and improve his game. With just 12 months to go until the 2014 World Cup, such improvements could be decisive as to whether he will play a role at the event.
Having fallen behind Fred in the pecking order for his country, it is now time for Damiao to gamble. At Internacional, he has lost form and still remained at the top of the domestic game. He is now 23 and must look to take his game to higher levels.
Given his size, technical ability and game intelligence, he has the potential to make himself a force at the very highest levels of football. The next step, from being a very good player to an excellent player, will require much hard work and dedication.
If Damiao hopes to make such improvements to his game, while at a club who will hope to challenge for titles in the coming seasons, then Tottenham would be a fine choice. Under Villas-Boas, it is easy to envisage him developing into one of the most feared attacking players in Europe.
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