Readingfc.co.uk spoke to Portuguese Football Expert Andy Brassell – to get the low down on latest signing Daniel Carrico.
Andy, a freelance journalist and a reporter the BBC, ESPN, The Indepedent et al – has covered the Primeira Liga for a number of years, and is the author of the book “All of Nothing” – covering Porto’s remarkable Champions League win in 2004.
What can you tell us about Daniel’s rise to prominence with Sporting?
AB: He’s a traditional Sporting player - who came through the youth system, and was captain at every level ever since he was a kid. That’s what they do as a club, you go back to Simao, Cristiano Ronaldo of course, Nani, Miguel Veloso, Joao Moutinho – there’s so many of them.
He was handed his debut by Portugal’s current national team manager Paulo Bento and began to form a really, really good partnership with Brazilian centre half Anderson Polga. As soon as Paulo Sergio took charge, he made Carrico captain – at the age of just 22. They expect their young players to lead the club and he was identified an on the pitch leader – he’s not a shouter, a quiet guy but very mature which links into the captaincy thing as well. He leads by example.
How would you describe him as a player?
Daniel is composed, decent on the ball and was always a solid, trusted player. He reads the game really well, is good in the air and very calm – I think that’s very important. After Sergio left he started to play in midfield more as the holder, that brought structure to the team.
He hasn’t had much first team football this season, how much of that is down to his contractual situation?
AB: I definitely think the two are absolutely linked. Perhaps in recent seasons he hasn’t been made to feel the corner stone of the team, when he should have been. There’s been that uncertainty at the club – the Club President has brought lots of foreign players in and I would certainly say it’s not a reflection on Daniel that he’s left. There’s a lot of Sporting fans who are annoyed that they’ve sold him
Will it be a tough adjustment to the Premier League?
AB: I think he has what it takes to step up. If he’s initially going to play in midfield, I think that’s quite helpful for him. I tend to think the biggest adjustment coming from Portugal to England is the pace and intensity of the game in the Premier League – which is quite something to get used to. Some defenders have found it hard to adjust coming from Portugal, but games in midfield will allow him to have that composure.
Was there much competition for Carrico’s signature?
AB: There was talk of Manchester United taking a look at him very seriously a couple of years ago, and fees of £20 million were quoted. This is obviously a great opportunity for Reading - I think it’ll work out really well for them, it’s an extraordinary bargain – they say there’s no value in January, but it could turn out to be an incredible signing. It’s great for the player too. In the Premier League if he’s playing games and playing well he’ll almost certainly get into the Portugal squad. Bento knows him, and rates him – so this could be a very, very good signing.