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European teams bank on Brazil

Published: Monday 29 July 2002, 19.17CET
Rivaldo heads a list of four FIFA World Cup-winning Brazilians signed by European clubs. features

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Published: Monday 29 July 2002, 19.17CET

European teams bank on Brazil

Rivaldo heads a list of four FIFA World Cup-winning Brazilians signed by European clubs.

Rivaldo's weekend move from FC Barcelona to Milan AC completed a frenetic few days which saw three of his FIFA World Cup-winning team-mates signed by European clubs.

Italian move
The 1999 FIFA World Footballer of the Year's high-profile switch to Italy on Saturday was completed on the same day as Arsenal FC landed combative midfield player Gilberto Silva. Another English club, Middlesbrough FC, signed Juninho on Friday, 24 hours after Luizão, a striker who played twice in the Far East, was snared by Hertha BSC Berlin.

Surplus to requirements
Rivaldo will now grace the same San Siro turf as Internazionale FC's Ronaldo after the duo's virtuoso displays, ably supported by Ronaldinho and co, enabled the sublime South Americans to lift their fifth world crown last month. Despite his five goals in the World Cup, however, Rivaldo returned to Europe to find himself surplus to requirements at Camp Nou after his contract was cancelled.

Burden of expectation
Rivaldo will now shoulder the burden of an expectant Milanese crowd after years of underachievement by the five-times European Champion Clubs' Cup winners. The former RC Deportivo La Coruña playmaker is particularly relishing lining up against Ronaldo.  "I can't wait to play in derbies at the San Siro," Rivaldo said. "It will be a huge party for all the fans and I hope they will enjoy it. I never imagined that such a scenario could become reality and I am really curious to see what it will be like."

Unsung hero
Whereas Brazil's brilliant triumvirate of Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho dominated the headlines throughout the World Cup, the industry of the unsung Gilberto Silva was equally integral to the team's eventual success. He will ply his trade in London from now on after joining Arsenal, FA Premiership and FA Cup winners last season, from Clube Atlético Mineiro in his homeland for an undisclosed fee.

Holding role
Gilberto Silva's ability to nullify opposition midfield allowed the more creative players in yellow jerseys to attack at will. Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal FC manager, is confident that the 25-year-old, who played every minute of Brazil's seven World Cup matches, will prove equally adept at allowing the likes of Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Fredrik Ljungberg (when the latter two are fit) the freedom of Highbury. "Gilberto Silva is a naturally gifted, world-class player who proved by his performances in Japan during the summer that he is a winner," said Wenger.

Time to settle
Gilberto Silva will be afforded time to settle at Arsenal, no doubt aided by countryman Edu, while Luizão will be welcomed by compatriots Marcelinho and Alex Alves at the Olympiastadion. A free transfer to the German 1. Bundesliga holds no fear for the striker, who joins from Grêmio FPA.

'Great pleasure'
The 26-year-old Luizão, who has signed a four-year contract with Hertha, said: "It gives me great pleasure to sign this contract. I will stay in Berlin for four years and it is my aim to score as many goals as possible." If Hertha are to make an impression on the UEFA Cup, Luizão's goals will be crucial.

Third-time lucky?
Whereas Gilberto Silva and Luizão will have to adapt to completely new cultures and lifestyles, Juninho knows exactly what he is letting himself in for after being signed for a third time by Middlesbrough. Juninho, who featured in five of Brazil's matches at the World Cup, including a late substitute appearance in the 2-0 final victory against Germany, has signed from the Spanish side Club Atlético de Madrid for €9.45m.

Greatest impact
It remains to be seen which of the quartet will have the greatest impact, but what is certain is that the arrival of each of the Brazilians at their respective clubs will only heighten the supporters' expectation as the new season, and the promise of silverware, draws ever closer.

Last updated: 30/07/02 11.32CET

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