Once heralded as panacea for all of Tottenham’s striker shortcomings- his name is now met with derision from supporters of the club. The Brazilian’s future is up in the air as he looks to nab the No.9 position from Fred for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
NAME: Leandro Damião da Silva dos Santos
AGE: 24 (By August 17, 2013)
WEIGHT: 176 lbs
CURRENT CLUB: Internacional
LEAGUE APPEARANCES: 19
WHOSCORED.COM LEAGUE RATING: N/A
WHOSCORED EUROPEAN RATING: N/A
VALUE: 22 Million Euros
Leandro Damião was born in Jardim Alegre, Brazil he began trying out for local clubs in a bid to become a professional footballer. He first served as midfielder before making the move to the striker position. He signed a youth contract with current club Internacional in 2009 and in a year was being featured in the first team at the age 20. Internacional are a hallowed club in Brazilian history who have won 42 Campeonato Gaucho, 2 Copa Libertadores, 3 Serie A titles, and a FIFA Club World Cup win against FC Barcelona. In the 2012 season, Internacional finished a disappointing 10th position ensuring no Copa Libertadores and are in the same position currently in their 2013 campaign. Damião has appeared 132 times for the Brazilian club scoring 68 goals in the process at this time in the Brazilian Serie A. Leandro Damião became a breakout star for his performances in the 2012 Olympics in London. Damião scored six times in five appearances leading the Brazilian squad to a silver medal. A great deal of press was given to the rainbow flick and near goal against the Argentine defense. Defensive Midfielder, Sandro was also a member of the 2010 Copa Libertadores win playing alongside Leandro Damião for a few months before his move to Tottenham. Since then, Tottenham have been tracking Damião as a potential replacement for Peter Crouch, then Jermain Defoe, and now Emmanuel Adebayor. Reports ran rampant of a deal in place during the 2012 summer window and then again in the 2013 winter window but as the window closed no deal was completed and Leandro Damião remained at Internacional. Another transfer window open and will this be the time the Brazilian joins Paulinho and Sandro at Tottenham?
The “retired” Ronaldo was once asked to comment on who was the future star of Brazilian football. The name on the journeyman Ballon d’Or winner’s lips was Leandro Damião. Faster and more agile than Fred, stronger and more powerful than Alexandre Pato, Damião is a physical specimen. Unlike most 6’1 176 pound strikers, the man from Internacional continues his country’s beautiful dribbling ability and is also a skillful player willing to pull out moves during games as a way to get around defenders. His strike rate is decent but not overly impressive since he plies his trade in the Brazilian league. As a member of the CONMEBOL confederation he has no club European experience. All this amounts to a 6’1 Brazilian uncertainty- something Tottenham have enough of in the striker position. His rumored price tag and the uncertainty has led Daniel Levy to balk at this deal. Damião has the potential to become the next great Brazilian striker being tall, strong, skillful, and young or he might end up like Robinho and Alexandre Pato struggling with injuries and placed in difficult situations. As with anything involving Daniel Levy, money is an issue, once deemed to be worth just under 15 Million Euros Levy’s constant negotiations coupled with new interest from other teams has raised the price to anywhere from 20 – 25 Million Euros even though Damião’s 2013 form has been inconsistent at best.
VERDICT: Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton revival has seen the club sign the Croatian statue Dejan Lovren and is rumored to be interested in Celtic’s Victor Wanyama and now Leandro Damião. Champions League contenders Napoli were rumored to have lodged an offer but recently Internacional President Giovanni Luigi reported that while interest is high no official offer has ever been made for the services of Leandro Damião. Where does Tottenham come into all of this- long believed shoe-ins for Damião they now appear to be on the outside looking in. No one outside of Internacional, Tottenham, Southampton, and Napoli boardrooms seem to have a clue. This uncertainty is cringe worthy for any Tottenham supporter. The saga has drawn on to a ridiculous state. Leandro Damião is inconsistent flashing brilliance before settling for little more than professional competence- this does not bode well but Tottenham will need to complete this deal, as Damião will snub Napoli and Southampton to hopefully work his magic in North London. I am not entirely sold but Tottenham’s idle behavior has left them with no other choice.