Speculation has been rife this week over the future of Brazil’s latest sensation, Bernard. The diminutive winger has had a busy summer winning both the Confederations Cup with Brazil and coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the first leg to win the Copa Libertadores with Atletico Mineiro.
Whilst many Premier League fans will not be familiar with the 5 ft 4 magician, fans in Brazil have been excited by his performances in the last two years. Evidence of this would be the enormous roar he received every time he came on as a substitute during the Confederations Cup. These roars were followed by cheers any time he touched the ball, such is the growing reputation of the player.
Following the Copa Libertadores final, Bernard’s agent released a tweet proclaiming:
[quote]Congratulations, Bernard. Double-winner! Confederations Cup, Libertadores… the perfect farewell.[/quote]
If this week’s rumours are to believed, Arsenal could be the player’s next destination. Widespread reports surfaced earlier this week suggesting Bernard was to complete a move to the North London club. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger publicly stated that there was no truth in this, but this tactic of playing down moves has often been used by Wenger in the past. As the week has progressed, Liverpool and FC Porto have also been linked with the Atletico Mineiro man. What is nearly for sure is that Bernard will be on the move, where he will be going is now up for debate.
So what will perspective buyers be getting is the question that needs to be answered (check the excellent video above). The winger began his career on loan at Democrata-SL in the Minas Gerais state on loan from Atletico Mineiro. His breakthrough season came in 2011 as he returned to Mineiro and made twenty-three appearances. It was the 2012 Brazilian Serie A season where fans were made aware of his talents when he scored eleven and gained eleven assists.
Due to his small stature Bernard is likely to be compared to former Brazilian Premier League star Juninho. This comparison would be incorrect as Bernard is a player blessed with pace, creativity and the ability to score goals. Rather surprisingly, three of his eleven goals in 2012 came with his head, testament to his well-rounded play. Very much the modern footballer, he is able to operate in any position behind a main striker. These talents saw him star alongside Ronaldinho in Atletico Miniero’s Copa Libertadores winning run. During his debut season in the tournament, he scored four goals and contributed one assist showing that he can mix it with the best in South America.
There is no doubt that Bernard’s talents would be a match for any top side in Europe. Whether Arsenal need another player in his mould is a different matter. In terms of players able to play in a wide position, Arsenal currently have Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho as well as youngsters Ryo Miyachi and Serge Gnabry. To add to this Santi Cazorla can also operate out wide or in an attacking midfield position. Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky add to Arsenal’s attacking midfield options, so exactly where Bernard would fit in will be the question on Arsenal fans minds. Manchester City and Chelsea have shown that you can never have too much quality in your squad and maybe Arsene Wenger has caught on to this idea.
A problem for any Arsenal fan drooling of the prospect of Bernard turning out for their club is the reported interest of FC Porto. The Portuguese club have become known for their scouting network bringing in South American talents who then become recognised players in Europe.
Porto have made very large profits in recent times particularly in the sales of Radamel Falcao, Hulk and James Rodriguez. The signing of Bernard would not only enhance their squad, but also be a fantastic financial investment. Bernard may be lured to Porto by the assurance of a guaranteed starting place, created by the departure of James Rodriguez, as well as the Portuguese clubs proven track record with South American players. Nonetheless, the success that young Brazilians in the form of Chelsea’s Oscar and Manchester United’s Rafael have had may help in bringing Bernard to the Premier League. Whether Arsenal will concentrate solely on the purchase of Luis Suarez and miss the boat with Bernard remains to be seen.