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How Ronaldo’s brilliance left 5 great Brazilian strikers in the shadows

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Cristiano Ronaldo

How Ronaldo’s brilliance left 5 great Brazilian strikers in the shadows

In the decade that followed Brazil’s 1994 World Cup triumph, the Selecao boasted an unparalleled plethora of attacking talents, yet none shone as brightly as Ronaldo.

O Fenomeno was in a class of his own; a dizzying mix of speed, dribbling, feints and clinical finishing that put him among the beautiful game’s very best.

While he excelled for PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona and Inter Milan and Real Madrid, the fondest memories of Ronaldo are usually tinged in the familiar yellow of Brazil.

World Cup and Copa America titles, along with countless other individual accolades, put him up there with Pele as a Selecao icon.

For some, living alongside that kind greatness came easy – the likes of Romario, Bebeto, Rivaldo, Edmundo and Ronaldinho all shone alongside O Fenomeno.

It’s the players who never got to share the spotlight being celebrated here. World-class talents left forever waiting in the wings for Brazil, born a decade too early and condemned to an international legacy unbefitting of their incredible talents.

Giovane Elber

In 10 seasons – three with Stuttgart and seven at Bayern Munich – Giovane Elber carved out a reputation as one of the Bundesliga’s greatest marksmen.

Elber was a different kind of striker to Ronaldo but no less worthy; a forward equally adept at linking the play and finishing off attacking moves. A heady mix of Brazilian flair and German work ethic.

Brought to Europe by AC Milan, Elber left the Rossoneri without playing for the first team, going on to enjoy prolific spells with Grasshopper Zurich and Stuttgart.

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His best years came at Bayern, though, with the Brazilian contributing to a period of success that included four Bundesliga titles, three German Cups and the Champions League.

Club top scorer in six of his seven seasons at Bayern, Elber’s 133 goals in 260 appearances made him the Bundesliga’s all-time top foreign goalscorer until Claudio Pizarro took his crown.

Yet throughout this time, Elber remained on the fringes of the Brazil national team. Like Ronaldo, Elber was a teen prodigy, emerging from the 1991 FIFA World Youth Championship, in which he scored four goals in six matches.

But in spite of this and his subsequent form in Germany, he had to wait until 1998 for a first senior call-up. His absence has long been attributed to his decision to play in Germany, with Brazil managers favouring players abroad drawn from Italy or Spain.

When he did get a chance, it came with a caveat: Luiz Felipe Scolari offered Elber the opportunity to replace the injured Ronaldo in Brazil’s squad for the 2001 Copa America in Colombia. Amid security concerns that had already seen Argentina withdraw entirely, Elber declined. Scolari refused to pick him again, ending any hopes he had of making the 2002 finals.

“The subject is closed,” Elber upon announcing his international retirement. “When the 2006 World Cup comes around, I will be 33 and I will not have the desire or the ability to play.”

He finished with seven goals in 15 games for Brazil.

Mario Jardel

One of Europe’s leading strikers in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the spectre of Ronaldo loomed large over Mario Jardel’s career.

Often inaccurately viewed as an out-and-out poacher, Jardel’s goalscoring repertoire was arguably more varied than even O Fenomeno’s. An exemplary finisher in the box, he was equally comfortable shooting from distance, while his bullet headers became something of a trademark.

Jardel also scored goals by the bucketload – 30 or more in each of his first six seasons in Europe – starting at Porto where he scored 166 goals in 169 appearances from 1997 to 2000. But it could have been even better.

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Linked with the likes of Inter Milan and Barcelona, Jardel never got the chance to follow in Ronaldo’s footsteps at either, twice snubbed and instead signed by Galatasaray and, a year later, Sporting Lisbon.

Jardel scored 34 times for Gala during a single-season stay before moving on to Sporting in 2001, where he fired the club to a first league title in almost 20 years, scoring 42 goals in 30 league games.

That should have been enough to see Jardel at the 2002 World Cup – particularly as Ronaldo managed just seven goals in 16 that season – but his card had already been marked by Scolari.

In the summer of 2001, Jardel accepted the invite turned down by Elber to play for Brazil in place of Ronaldo at the Copa America in Colombia. He endured a torrid time, failing to score as Brazil exited in the quarter-finals to Honduras, confirming Scolari’s belief his stats were inflated in the process.

Omitted from the 2002 squad in favour of lesser names happy to warm the bench while Ronaldo starred, Jardel’s career never recovered. He left Sporting a year later, embarking on an increasingly nomadic career as a pale, bloated imitation of his former self.

Sonny Anderson

How do you replace a player like Ronaldo? For Barcelona, the answer was Sonny Anderson. Or at least, that was how the fans and press saw it.

Anderson had spent three years in France prior to his arrival at Barcelona in 1997. An initial six-month spell with Marseille brought 16 goals in 20 games but it was AS Monaco that the Brazilian truly carved out his reputation, scoring 64 times in 112 games for the Principality club.

The Brazilian was so much more than a goalscorer though. “He could finish with his left and right. Hold the ball up, win it in the air and play passes. He could do the lot. And he did it at lightning pace,” his Monaco team-mate, John Collins, told the BBC.

A league title winner with Monaco in 1997, Anderson was also Ligue 1 Player of the Year and the breakout star in a team featuring Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry, and David Trezeguet. That was enough to see Barcelona fork out €17million for his services, but supporters were unconvinced.

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“It was a very difficult time because when I arrived, I cost more money than Ronaldo and the fans expected from me a similar performance,” Anderson told Goal.

“Ronaldo was a unique player and the fans didn’t know much about me because I played in France.”

Despite scoring 10 times in La Liga during a double-winning debut campaign Louis van Gaal, the Ronaldo comparisons continued, especially as O Fenomeno bagged 25 for Inter that same season.

Though another title followed, it wasn’t long before Anderson was on his way back to France with Lyon, having become fed up with life under Van Gaal at a club where he was forever in the shadow of another Brazilian who wasn’t even there.

It was a move that curtailed any hopes of an international career. One that amounted to just six caps and, in truth, only began in August 1997 – around the time Anderson was being dubbed Ronaldo’s replacement.

Marcio Amoroso

Tipped to reach the same heights at Ronaldo in his younger years, at one point Amoroso looked on course to do exactly that – only for fate to intervene.

Having impressed in his homeland with Guarani, the Brazilian arrived in Italy in 1997, a year prior to Ronaldo, and quickly set about showing why he was one of Brazil’s most highly-rated youngsters at the time with Udinese.

The 22-year-old Amoroso defied his age to bag 12 goals in the ultra-defensive Serie A. An intelligent, skilful attacker capable of playing as a traditional number nine or 10, Brazil manager Mario Zagallo was among Amoroso’s many admirers and may well have taken him to the 1998 World Cup had he not been injured.

A year later, a fully-fit Amoroso was up and running and, most significantly, outscoring Ronaldo in Serie A, with a return of 22 goals making him the division’s top scorer for the 1998-99 campaign, eight ahead of O Fenomeno.

Picked as part of Vanderlei Luxemburgo’s Brazil squad for the 1999 Copa America, Amoroso shone again, scoring four goals en route to the title, including the opener in Brazil’s 2-1 semi-final win over Mexico.

Part of an attacking quartet that included Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo, he even won praise from the latter, who described him as “an animal” and “great to play with”. He could do no wrong.

It certainly seemed like that over the course of the 2001-02 campaign, with Amoroso making a flying start to life at new club Borussia Dortmund, following a £20million move, with a tally of 26 goals in 46 games helping the club win the Bundesliga. Amoroso finished as the top scorer in the process.

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Yet as the 2002 World Cup approached, a change of managers saw Amoroso out in the cold under Scolari. The Brazilian coach was unimpressed with European leagues outside of Italy or Spain and wasn’t one for changing his mind – even when Amoroso, fresh from scoring three times against AC MIlan in the UEFA Cup that season, told reporters: “The hat-trick is a message to Scolari.”

Omitted from the 23-man list, Amoroso’s later career was blighted by injury in an away similar to that of Ronaldo. But while O Fenomeno’s knack for timing saw him return at key moments for Brazil, his Copa America compatriot was less lucky.

Had Brazil lost the 2002 World Cup, then more may have been made of his omission. But, as the saying goes, history is written by the victors.

Giovanni

A precursor to Neymar among Santos fans, Giovanni Silva de Oliveira was handed the nickname “Messiah” among fans of the Brazilian club after a return of 37 goals in 36 games over two years.

Giovanni came up against a higher power when he joined Barcelona in 1996 though. Signed to primarily play as an attacking midfielder, he was equally effective in front of goal.

Classy, creative and boasting impressive technique on the ball, Giovanni might have stolen the show in that first season were it not for Ronaldo’s arrival.

Instead, he had to make do playing second fiddle as Barcelona’s second most exciting Brazilian prospect. There were occasional highlights along the way, with Giovanni scoring home and away against Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup Winners’ Cup and netting the winner against Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey.

But Giovanni cut an increasingly peripheral figure as the season went on, used sparingly by Bobby Robson and forced to watch on as Ronaldo went from strength to strength. He scored 12 times in all competitions but was an unused sub in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final, watching on as you-know-who scored the winner.

With Robson moving upstairs and Ronaldo moving to Inter that summer, Giovanni must have thought he finally had a chance at living up to his Santos reputation. But he didn’t count on the disciplinarian approach of the incoming Louis van Gaal, a manager he claimed was “a Hitler for Brazilians”.

“He is arrogant, haughty and has a mental problem,” he told Folha. “He did not want Brazilians around him.

“He always said that we were not training well. Van Gaal has no idea of ​​football and always comes with the same training sessions. He seems crazy.”

Giovanni soon departed for Olympiakos, where his all-action displays earned him the nickname The Wizard. But despite a fine career in Greece that included five league titles and some impressive goals, his star soon faded in Brazil.

Part of the Selecao squad for the 1997 Copa America and 1998 World Cup, he made little impact at either tournament and was not selected again. Ronaldo did considerably better.

He may have despised Van Gaal but part of The Wizard must have wished he could magic away Ronaldo.

How Ronaldo’s brilliance left 5 great Brazilian strikers in the shadows

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PSG seek huge discount on Osimhen from Napoli

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Victor Osimhen

PSG seek huge discount on Osimhen from Napoli

Paris Saint Germain  have reportedly demanded  huge discount from the staggering 130  euros  clause from Napoli to enable  it prise away  Victor Osimhen  even as the French giants  are willing to part with one or two players in exchange  for the Nigeria international striker.

According to multiple Italian sources, Osimhen’s agent has been holed in Paris over the last few days in order to pull off  the deal since Napoli expect to resolve the transfer  issue as soon as possible with words rife that new coach Antonio Conte  has expressed his desire to reunite with Belgian striker, Romelu Lukaku.

Italian leading tabloid La Gazzetta dello Sport even claimed Napoli sports director Manna has  further resumed  talks with PSG  as club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis  eagerly awaits a deal to be struck.

With no  English Premier League side stepping forward  to acquire  his services, PSG  seems to be the most viable option left  for Osimhen after  coach Luis Enrique identified  the Nigerian ace striker  as  the best replacement for  Kylian Mbappe  who left for real Madrid.

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According to the Italian Pink Paper “The path is set: PSG-Osi is no longer a suggestion,  it is the only possible destination for Victor and his desire for the Champions League.”

In a related development, Osimhen was not listed last night as  Conte oversaw  his first friendly match as Napoli coach against local side Anaune Val di Non  as part of their pre-season preparations in the mountains of Dimaro.

According to Sport Italia, when the line-up was originally announced to spectators, Osimhen was named on the bench, but it quickly emerged he was in fact in the stands.

A note from the club pointed out the striker has been working separately from the squad in training over the last few days due to fitness issues and is therefore “not at the disposal” of Conte.

Inevitably, this is also linked to the on-going reports of negotiations with Paris Saint-Germain for a transfer at below the €130m release clause.

Napoli hope to get a deal done over the next 10 days and might be tempted to lower the asking price to just over €100m.

PSG seek huge discount on Osimhen from Napoli

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Why top clubs don’t want to sign Victor Osimhen – Report

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Victor Osimhen

Why top clubs don’t want to sign Victor Osimhen – Report

Despite telling his club Napoli that he will be leaving at the end of the 2023-2024 season, a destination transfer may not happen this summer despite another year of change in Naples, hence clubs are yet to snap Victor Osimhen away from his club and he is set to return for the preseason this July.

Osimhen penned a new contract that runs until 2026, but this deal includes a release clause believed to be worth around £101m.

At the start of this year, Osimhen fuelled exit reports by revealing he “already has his decision on his next step.”

“I have already decided on the next step to take at the end of the season. I already made up my mind. I already have my plan, I know what I want to do, the next step I want to take.”

In the summer of 2023, Real Madrid scouted Osimhen, at that time, Karim Benzema was about to join Al Ittihad of Saudi Professional League, making Madrid short of a point man. He had just led Napoli to a Serie A title and seemed a perfect fit for Real Madrid, many thought it was a done deal, but the head coach of Real Madrid, Carlo Ancelotti, opted not to sign him.

Ancelotti explained in an interview with ‘Radio Serie A,’ as reported by Area Napoli, why the club decided not to pursue Napoli’s Victor Osimhen.

When asked about the club’s interest in the Nigerian striker, Ancelotti said: “No, because I think the club thought that Benzema’s absence could be remedied by purchasing Bellingham,” the Italian tactician said.

Real Madrid had a successful season, winning both the league and the Champions League, showing their decision might have been the right one.

Meanwhile, Napoli priced the 25-year-old out of a move elsewhere last summer but an exit is more likely ahead of next season as the club suffered a major fall from grace in 2023/24.

They finished 10th in Serie A but Osimhen impressed as he scored 15 goals in his 25 appearances in the league.

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In a boost to Osimhen, several elite European clubs are in the market for a new striker this summer, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd mooted as potential destinations.

Some weeks back, transfer expert Fabrizio Romano confirmed the striker’s “priority remains to leave Napoli this summer.”

“I’ve had some Chelsea fans asking me again about Victor Osimhen as this story has seemed quiet recently. I still see Osimhen leaving, but at the moment the reality is that it is quiet, so we can only wait and see what happens.

“Osimhen will meet with his agent in the next few days to assess all the options and decide what’s best for him. Osimhen’s priority remains to leave Napoli this summer, the plan has not changed,” Romano said.

Arsenal reportedly identified RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Sesko as their main summer target, but they are not looking elsewhere as the 21-year-old has committed his future to the Bundesliga outfit by signing a new contract.

According to reports in Italy, Osimhen is ‘waiting for the Premier League’ and Arsenal have ‘spoken to’ his agent about signing him. PSG and Saudi Pro League clubs are also mentioned in the report as potential destinations.

Soccernet.ng reported that Manchester United and Chelsea are potentially unable to sign Victor Osimhen next summer, this can largely be attributed to financial constraints stemming from their recent heavy spending and the implications of Financial Fair Play, FFP regulations.

Napoli’s owner, Aurelio De Laurentiis, drives a hard bargain, and the tough negotiator’s knack for holding onto players until demands are met is known, reportedly values Osimhen at €200 million, a figure that exceeds what both Manchester United and Chelsea may be willing or able to pay.

This inflated valuation presents a significant barrier to any potential transfer negotiations for the CAF Best Player of the Year 2023.

Further weakening the 24-year-old’s chances of a move this summer is his injury history. However, this requires the necessary context.

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Putting himself in harm’s way by challenging for impossible loose balls has contributed to both major layoffs at Napoli, seeing him miss 14 games with a shoulder injury in year one in Naples and a cheekbone fracture that led to a 12-game absence in year two.

According to Transfermarkt, 1864 minutes played in all competitions ranked 17th in the Napoli squad in 20-21, 2310 the following season saw Osimhen move to 10th in the side and 3021 minutes last season placed eighth in the team. This indicates an improvement and demonstrates how the Nigerian’s full-blooded nature makes him his worst enemy.

Former Chelsea midfielder, Emmanuel Petit has warned the club against signing Osimhen. Petit said his former club should focus on nurturing their current squad rather than pursuing reinforcements.

“I don’t think Chelsea need Gyokeres or Osimhen.

“With Chelsea, there are so many players who are not playing to their level and can do so much more,” Petit told Genting Casino.

However, many Nigerian football lovers would argue that his Osimhen’s lack of transfer may be termed to his attitude, most recently, with ex-Super Eagles manager, Finidi George.

In June 2024, Osimhen lashed out at coach George, stating that he had lost respect for him, over some comments on his attitude towards the national team.

Finidi was quoted to have said he can’t beg Osimhen to play for the national team after the player withdrew from their last two 2026 World Cup qualifiers due to injury.

The striker was said to have been ruled out by a four-week injury and was replaced by Enugu Rangers defender, Kenneth Igboke.

But following the Super Eagles wobbling performances against South Africa and Benin Republic, the narrative of Osimhen’s absence changed as an unknown online medium reported that Finidi used Osimhen’s absence as a poster for the players’ bad attitude towards the national team when he and the Nigeria Football Federation chiefs met with the Sports Minister, John Enoh.

Osimhen was infuriated by the comments and, in a live Instagram video, opened up on the circumstances that led to his withdrawal from the Super Eagles last two World Cup qualifiers, adding that Finidi was adequately briefed by him and his doctor.

“I knew things like these would happen and that’s why I have the videos and screenshots of when I called Finidi while I was with the doctor in Germany.

“I got injured in our (Napoli’s) last game against Lecce and I went to the MRI scan. And I called Finidi there for him to listen to the doctor too.

“I called him (Finidi) and asked him to allow me to come to the camp to be with the boys and I spoke to some of my teammates too but he said I have to be with my family.

“I’m not addressing anything; everybody knows I play my heart out whenever I’m playing for the club or national team. I’ll share the screenshot and videos of my conversation with Finidi for the sake of those believing what Finidi said.

“I’ve lost respect for that man because before I disrespect anybody, I always sense of respect them,” Osimhen said.

With all these said live online, many question his respect and if he can call out his manager this way and call him by his name, it would be difficult for foreign managers to trust him when things go awry.

Why top clubs don’t want to sign Victor Osimhen – Report

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Colombia soccer federation head, son arrested after Copa America final

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Ramón Jesurún, Ramón Jamil

Colombia soccer federation head, son arrested after Copa America final

The head of the Colombian Football Federation, Ramón Jesurún, and his son have been arrested, following a brawl at Sunday’s Copa América final in Miami.

Mr Ramón, 71, and Ramón Jesurún and Ramón Jamil, 43, were held on charges of battery involving an official or an employee, said the Miami-Dade Police Department.

The charges relate to the brawl at the stadium after Colombia lost to Argentina 0-1 in extra time.

Neither Mr Ramón nor his son have publicly commented on the issue.

In a statement sent to the BBC, the Miami-Dade Police Department said the incident had happened just after the football match ended at the Hard Rock Stadium in the south-eastern US state.

Mr Ramón and his son were “walking towards the entrance of the field”, it said, but they became “irate and began shouting” at one of the security officers, who was instructed by his management to temporarily delay people from going further.

The police said the officer had “placed an open palm” on the chest of Mr Ramón’s son to guide him back.

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Mr Ramón then pushed the officer, they said, while his son grabbed the officer’s neck and pulled him to the ground, punching him and kicking him in the head.

Mr Ramón’s son also grabbed and pushed a female official who tried to assist, the police said.

It added that the two men had also punched a security manager.

Mr Ramón, his son and other family members are believed to have been trying to go on the pitch to take part in the awards ceremony.

The Colombian Football Federation made no immediate comment on the issue.

The start of the final of the Americas’ most prestigious football tournament was delayed by 80 minutes after ticketless fans forced their way into Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium.

Several arrests were made after clashes with police and security personnel, while several supporters needed treatment from paramedics.

Colombia soccer federation head, son arrested after Copa America final

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