By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – There are two ways to conduct transfer business in football; the first is to lavish funds on a player’s reputation, hoping he can reproduce what he has been famed for the world over. The second is to put in the miles and make educated gambles on up and coming players. Sports teams are always gambling which is more likely to produce results; the player relying on past achievements, or the hungry, enthusiastic youngster making his way in the game.
As Ronaldinho Gaucho continues to count the millions of reais paid into his bank account by new employer Flamengo, local rivals Fluminense and Botafogo have sought to add to their respective creativity with the two most exciting prospects plying their trade in Brazil’s northeast.
At the end of May, Botafogo signed playmaker Elkeson de Oliveira Cardoso from Bahian side Vitoria. The 21-year-old had also been linked with Fluminense, but since opting for the Alvinegro has excelled, already contributing two goals and adding a more assured fluidity to Caio Junior’s team.
Having missed out on one exciting youngster, Fluminense consoled themselves with the capture of Ciro, nicknamed “The Warrior”, from Sport Recife. After a prolonged period of negotiation, the player was finally registered with the CBF last Thursday, enabling him to make his debut against Bahia.
With leading man Fred set to miss the next nine league games after being called up to the Brazilian national squad for the upcoming Copa America in Argentina, and with Deco and Rodriguinho out injured, it is vital that Ciro finds his feet sooner rather than later. The man himself is in little doubt he can fit into the Fluminense’s battling ethic.
Scorer of 31 goals in 2010, the striker is ready to prove himself with talent, commitment and graft. “I’m never a player to give less than everything. I’ve never even been late for training. I am finally ready to show what I can do in the Fluminene shirt,” Ciro said at his inaugural press conference last week.
Elkeson has already been in Rio for about four weeks, but his transition to the big city has appeared effortless at times. He has slotted into an advanced midfield role more seamlessly than big names Deco and Ronaldinho managed at Fluminense and Flamengo respectively. The midfielder points to his tough childhood to show adapting is not a challenge for him.
“My childhood was difficult. I learned life’s lessons very early,” he said. But while football now comes with significant financial incentives, Elkeson conducts his career to a different tune.
“My happiness comes on the football pitch. Football is the time to enjoy myself and forget my problems, but also with responsibility. I look to be perfect and scold myself when I make a wrong pass,” the player said.
Wise words for anyone looking to carve out a life in the game. After the promising start made by Elkeson, Tricolores will be hoping for the same from their new acquisition. But fans from both clubs are positive about the most important aspect of these pieces of business; in taking a gamble, they have gained two of the leading lights in the future of Brazilian football.