What Cruzeiro Defender Dede Would Bring to Juventus

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IAugust 11, 2014

Dede of Brazil's Cruzeiro, celebrates after scoring against Paraguay's Cerro Porteno during a Copa Libertadores game in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
Jorge Saenz/Associated Press

Over the course of the past three years, Brazil international Dede has been regarded as one of Brazilian football's finest defensive assets. European suitors have been numerous, but he has thus far resisted the lure of a move toward the bright lights of the Champions League.

Per Radio Brasil (via Football Italia), Serie A giants Juventus are the latest side from the Continent to attempt to prise Dede away from his homeland. This time around, they may just be in luck.

When the tall, rangy centre-back opted to move from cash-strapped Vasco to Belo Horizonte side Cruzeiro, it was with his prospects of making the 2014 World Cup in mind.

As fate would transpire, Dede would return to somewhere near top form in the colours of A Raposa as they swept to a comfortable title success. Yet despite such achievement, Luiz Felipe Scolari would opt against his inclusion for the competition—perhaps to the benefit of his reputation.

The truth is that Dede's good form had dropped off once more in 2014, and his omission was completely understandable. Given the stakes at play, Felipao was in need of consistent performers.

Now, though, with the expected duration of his stay in Belo Horizonte complete and a replacement secured in the form of the talented Manoel, Cruzeiro are set to cash in on their asset should an offer of 15 million arrive and activate his release clause.

Such a fee is far from cheap for a central defender in the current climate, but given the context of some of the biggest transfers in the game this summer, it remains well within the realms of reality.

Dede may not have been the most consistent of defenders over the past few seasons, but his form can at least be loosely tied to that of his side. When his club is stuttering, it is little surprise that he would fail to hit full stride from the heart of the defence.

Bruno Magalhaes/Associated Press

Injuries, meanwhile, have been another frequent concern, but he will have been boosted by new national team manager Dunga's assertion that he is "ready for European football" after three top seasons, as per Globo Esporte (Portuguese).

If there is a downside to Juventus' pursuit of the man Neymar once described as the best defender in Brazil, via Globo Esporte (Portuguese), it is just that: He has proven somewhat injury-prone with a history of back and hamstring complaints.

Over recent fixtures, there have also been suggestions that his once surprising acceleration has been affected by his time on the sidelines. However, it may just be a temporary concern.

The potential positives, though, far outweigh any concerns. Per WhoScored.com statistics, no Cruzeiro player comes close to matching his defensive output (interceptions, clearances and blocked shots), averaging 9.2 such actions per game.

Andre Penner/Associated Press

Seldom needing to tackle compared with some of his more reactive teammates, he is rarely beaten one-on-one and indeed commits few fouls. The 6'3" defender won 22 of his 26 aerial battles this season, his side's leading performer in that respect.

It is these qualities that suggest Dede could adapt to life anywhere in the world. He is an intelligent defender with the physical qualities to unsettle any striker, whether it's a powerful target man or a tricky winger. He has excelled against both.

He may not be as comfortable in possession as some leading sides would like, but that could be worked on quickly. While occasionally clumsy-looking, he is also not afraid to play out from the back.

Once more, it is his injury record that will be the major concern of any suitors.

Juventus would be an intriguing move given their own strength in the centre of defence, but Dede could undoubtedly add to the depth of any side. In a three-man defensive line, he would be ideal, while his physical prowess would also complement either Giorgio Chiellini or Leonardo Bonucci in a duo.

At 15 million, hesitation is understandable. Miss out on Dede at this stage, though, and Juve could end up paying his eventual European host far more just a year down the line. He is a gamble, but one with fantastic potential upside if they can keep him away from the physio's table for large swathes of the season.

As Cruzeiro showed last year, it can be done.