Paulo Henrique Ganso: Chelsea, Man Utd are chasing the real deal
Believe the hype. Paulo Henrique Ganso is the real deal.
The Santos ace is set to become the hottest property on the global transfer market after rejecting a new contract offer last week. Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City are just three of Europe's biggest clubs now in contact with Ganso's representatives waiting to open negotiations about a move away.
Ganso is similar in style to Neymar, but crucially for English clubs, at 6ft-plus, boasts superior ability in the air. His aerial prowess is now a major part of his weaponry, a credit to a player who didn't leave the indoor version of the game until 16.
World Cup winner Carlos Alberto Torres, when discussing the omission of the Santos pair for South Africa, made clear who he believes is the bigger talent:
''The whole country wanted him to call those two - Neymar and Ganso. Why? Because they are wonderful players and they are playing very well. This guy Ganso is the No.1. But Dunga didn't call them. Ganso is 20 years old. He said he is too young, so I think Dunga lost the chance to recuperate the Brazilian tradition because the whole country was asking him to call those players.
''Good players. Ask anyone in football in Brazil and they will tell you this.
''Always we want to see the real Brazil, to play to our mystique. Spain are more adventurous than us."
Another World Cup winner, Romario, went further, insisting of all of Brazil's best young players, only Ganso deserved to be taken to South Africa.
"Ganso is a player who can play the part of Kaka, who unfortunately is not 100%. If Dunga has to consider a new name, I would go with him. For the others (like Neymar, Fernandinho), I think they should wait for next time (in 2014)," declared the former Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven star.
Romario also admitted he sees Ganso and Neymar as a superior combination than his and Bebeto's strike-pairing which brought the 1994 World Cup back to Brazil.
"They may even be more technically gifted," conceded Romario.
"Though, overall, our pairing was more complete. We knew better about eachother's position and, most importantly, where we played, we were always responsive to eachother for goals and the positive results.
"For Neymar and Ganso to be seen as a major duo, they need to wear the Selecao shirt regularly together. There's no question, however, they have the potential."
Ganso's decision to go public with his rejection of new terms stunned the Santos board.
Having fought off Chelsea's attentions for Neymar, president Luis Álvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro was confident only days before Ganso's declaration that he would also put pen to paper: "Neymar is a champagne, and Ganso is a Bordeaux. Each one has its own character and profile, but it is great to drink both."
Ribeiro isn't ready to give up on Ganso just yet and like with Neymar, will attempt to convince the attacking midfielder that to feature in the 2014 World Cup, he needs to be playing regularly - in Brazil.
"We are qualified to play in 2014. I think this is the beginning of a new phase of the Selecao and the boys fit like a glove. They know they need to play in Brazil to appear. We want them to appreciate this.
"I think we still have a chance to hold onto both of them."
Everything is expected to be decided by mid-November. A new meeting between all parties has been scheduled for November 12. Ganso has asked Ribeiro to be placed on the same wages as Neymar and also 70 per cent of image rights, which given the popularity of Santos and his own profile, is worth a fortune to the player and his family.
If Ribeiro fails to meet his terms, expect another outburst from Ganso and the pressure to increase on Santos less than six weeks out from the winter transfer market.