Jorge Sampaoli has just arrived in Sevilla after leading Chile to their 2015 Copa America title, but his plans for the club’s upcoming season are already running full steam ahead.
The former Chile manager, he resigned in January of 2016, watched with pride as La Roja once again captured the Copa this June. Now, he will be looking to match their success with his own at Sevilla.
Managing Sevilla will be the biggest club test of Sampaoli’s coaching career, and it’s an excellent opportunity to prove that he’s one of the finer managers in the world.
His primary focus for this transfer window might come as a surprise for many fans around the world, but it is far from being an odd one.
Sampaoli’s main target is a player whose name has slowly faded away from the international media, but he will inevitably become a protagonist in 2016-17 should his move to Sevilla happen.
That player’s name is Paulo Henrique Ganso. Remember him? A former teammate, at Santos, of one of the world’s best players?
There were even those who went as far as to claim that Ganso was a better player than Neymar during their time together at the Brazilian club.
Just like Neymar, Ganso was bound to have a stellar career in Europe and with the Brazilian national team. Well, at least those were the predictions.
An injury that sidelined him for six months, as well as a contract dispute involving Santos and an agent company, hindered Ganso’s career and forced him to watch his old teammate go on to win everything with Barcelona.
Neymar has become Brazil’s unquestioned leader and talisman while Ganso has collected only 8 caps.
Nevertheless, Ganso hasn’t stopped fighting. In 2012, he signed with Sao Paulo and slowly regained his ground as well as respect from players, coaches and the media.
Ganso has been one of the highlights of Sao Paulo’s campaign in the Copa Libertadores this season with a pair of goals to go along with five assists in the competition.
His current form and development, as well as his potential to change how a team plays, are the key factors that bewitched Sampaoli. The Argentinian manager is pressuring Sevilla’s board towards securing the player's services.
Sampaoli’s plan is to turn Ganso into a new Andrea Pirlo, a role which he definitely has the skills to fill. Like Pirlo, Ganso is far from being a physical player, but he makes up for it with his flair and passing ability.
His vision of the field and his teammates is already superb playing as an attacking midfielder, which in turns makes you wonder how much more impact he’d have playing further back in the Pirlo role.
Sao Paulo have already rejected an €8 million offer for their playmaker. However, Sampaoli doesn’t seem ready to give up on the signing, as Ganso also showed interest in Sampaoli’s plan.
Regardless, Ganso will be out of contract in September of 2017. It’s up to Sao Paulo as to whether they want to cash in on their prized asset now or lose him on a free transfer.