Yes, he is yet another Brazilian tipped to be a world star. Yes he wears the infamous number 10 shirt of Santos and now Brazil. And yes, the name he is now commonly known by has no relevance to his actual real name. Meet Paulo Henrique Chagas de Lima, sorry the Goose, or Ganso to me and you…
Paulo, sorry Ganso, was born in Ananindeua, Pará on the 12th October 1989. He was spotted by former Brazilian international Giovanni whilst he was a youngster, playing futsal as most Brazilian children do, honing their skills in an attempt to replicate their idols and hopefully make the big time. He joined Tuna Luso, then Paysandu by the age of 15. Not long after his talent began to show and he was snapped up by Santos’ youth setup, again on the recommendation of Giovanni in 2005.
By 2007 he played in Brazil’s under-20 national tournament, where his abilities started to be noticed by a wider audience as youth team experts from around the globe started to take note. The Santos youth team gave a poor showing, losing at the quarter-final stages, however Ganso did more than enough to enhance his reputation and in 2008 he was promoted to the senior squad, armed with a 5-year contract. He made his senior league debut in February that year but only managed seven games, as he had trouble adapting to the more defensive-minded, burly hustle and bustle nature of the senior game.
It took a new manager at Santos, Dorival Junior, who brought with him a change of playing philosophy, for Ganso to be given another opportunity. This time he didn’t let it slip, making himself indispensible to the club’s style of play in an exciting new attacking 4-3-3 line-up, which saw him team-up with fellow youth phenomenon Neymar and earn the famous number 10 shirt. Of course, at Santos the number 10 shirt is even more significant as it was made famous by their most favourite son, Pele.
2010 saw Ganso win his first senior silverware starring alongside Neymar as Santos swept all aside, winning the São Paulo State Championship and Brazilian Cup double.
Santos fever gripped Brazil once more as the pair conjured flashbacks to 2002 and their previous successful midfield/striker duo, which had rose through their youth ranks, Diego and Robinho. The momentum gathered as shouts were heard to even involve the pair in the coming 2010 World Cup squad. Ganso made the backup squad, but eventually Dunga left him at home as Brazil endured a lacklustre performance throughout the tournament.
As with his club, a change of manager at national level saw Ganso immediately called up to represent la selecao, placing the revered number 10 jersey on his back. Just like at his club, the fit seemed perfect as he starred in his international debut – a friendly versus the USA, a performance so fine that many are now considering him an automatic first choice. With everything coming together for Ganso disaster struck as he suffered a terrible knee injury that kept him sidelined for six months, leaving him a doubt for the Cope America this summer.
Ganso plays the classic number 10 role to perfection at Santos. Staying mostly central, the midfielder involves himself and directs attacking play with his quick-thinking – so much so that it has led to a nickname of ‘the chess player’. Tall (standing at over 6ft) and elegant, he is strong in possession, very gifted technically and has sublime vision – key attributes for any fantasista. These latter two attributes often combine to supply a killer pass to team-mates – Neymar a particular benefactor. Indeed it is his club and international colleague who has labelled him the ‘left-footed Zidane’. A fine comparison, as his repertoire of tricks also include the ‘roulette’ spin – something that the great Frenchman perfected in busy midfield areas, to create space for himself and leave markers trailing.
Ganso just made the cut to be included in Brazil’s Copa America squad for this summer, and started all four of Brazil’s games before they were knocked out at the hands of Paraguay in the quarter finals.
With many clubs watching, in particular AC Milan who have been tracking Ganso for a while, and are rumoured to be ready to secure his signature in the near future, the pressure is on for the latest in a long line of Brazilian fantasista stars.