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Five Samba shockers who flopped in English football

| 06.02.2013

England face Brazil this week in a glamour friendly at Wembley – but players from the most flamboyant footballing nation of them all have a tendency to struggle in this particular part of Europe.

Many Brazilian exports have plied their trade in the Premier League with limited success down the years.

Despite originating from a country that is always held up as a benchmark for footballing excellence, Brazilian players struggle to adapt to life in England.

The reasons for this are unclear. Maybe it’s due to the pace of the Premier League. It could be down to the weather. Being on the opposite side of the world to family and friends is also bound to have an impact.

The list could go on, and on.

Here are some of the biggest Samba flops in Premier League history ahead of Wednesday’s game to mark the FA’s 150th anniversary, when England are 2/1 to be victorious.

Kleberson (Manchester United, 2003-05, 20 appearances, two goals)

After a hugely-successful 2002 World Cup campaign, the defensive midfielder arrived from Atletico Paranaense for £6.5million amid much hype. However, Kleberson’s two-season stint at Old Trafford marked him out as one of the biggest flops in Premier League history.

Roque Junior (Leeds United, 2003-04, five appearances)

On the periphery of the first team at AC Milan, Leeds United decided to take the defender, a Brazil international at the time, on a season-long loan. In a campaign that saw Leeds relegated, he only made five appearances, failing to convince in any of them.

Afonso Alves (Middlesbrough, 2007-09, 42 appearances, 10 goals)

The princely sum of £12million prized the previously-prolific striker from Dutch side Heerenveen, and he was expected to help Boro climb up the Premier League table. However, just four goals in his final season contributed to their relegation from the top flight, and he was promptly shipped off to Al-Sadd in Qatar for £7million.

Robinho (Manchester City, 2008-10, 41 appearances, 14 goals)

Not long after their takeover by Sheikh Mansour, City made a statement of intent by buying Robinho from Real Madrid for an eye-watering £32.5million from Real Madrid. He scored on his debut at home against Chelsea, but everything that followed ended up in disappointment. After being loaned out to Santos, he headed to AC Milan for a cut-price fee without so much as a whimper.

Heurelho Gomes (Tottenham, 2008-, 96 appearances)

For just shy of £8milion, Gomes arrived from PSV Eindhoven with a great reputation. A few promising performances with Spurs were quickly forgotten as he made error after error in goal. Frustrated with his performances, Harry Redknapp brought in the reliable Brad Friedel, while Hugo Lloris came from Lyon in the summer. Gomes was loaned out to German side Hoffenheim last month.

There have been the odd exceptions…

While there have been a fair few flops from Brazil, there have been quite a few successes, the most notable being former Middlesbrough midfielder Juninho. He twisted and tricked his way through stubborn defences during his time on Teesside, becoming a club legend in the process.

Gilberto Silva impressed during his time at Arsenal while more recent arrivals from the home of the ‘beautiful game’ such as Chelsea midfielder Ramires and the fast-improving Lucas Leiva at Liverpool have done well too.

Expect the likes of Lucas and Ramires to line up at Wembley on Wednesday, but who could follow them to England in the years to come? And will they be a success?



Mark Bowering