Leonardo’s best Brazilian signings at Milan
Through the years sporting director has brought at AC Milan some of the biggest Brazilian stars that have graced San Siro with their talent.
Twenty points in nine games. Just after Christmas it seemed almost impossible that Milan, inserting a mysterious object named Paqueta, could reach certain levels in such a short time. Especially considering that until the last game, the one against Inter, the Rossoneri occupied the third place in Serie A standings. An almost extraordinary progress.
It cannot be argued that it was only the Brazilian midfielder who changed the face of the team, because Piatek certainly played a big role in the transformation of Gattuso’s eleven. Now, after two months, Lucas Paqueta is a first minute start with his national team and Brazil’s new number ten, completely justifying Leonardo’s bet. 35 million, plus bonuses and commissions, seemed like a gamble. Now a little less.
When it comes to signing Brazilian players the AC Milan sporting director holds an enviable record. He rarely misses. It all started in 2003 when Leonardo brought at San Siro a promising skinny youngster named Kaka. Six years latter the attacking midfielder was one of the best players in the history of Milan winning every possible trophy with the Red and Blacks.
Another big hit was the signing of Alexandre Pato when he was just 17-years-old. Sure the Brazilian striker suffered a sharp decline in his last years in Italy with many injuries destroying his progress. However, Pato of the first seasons was a joy to watch. Quick, creative and gifted with excellent technique he was lethal in front of the goal.
Perhaps Leonardo’s biggest discovery was Thiago Silva. The Brazilian centre back had tried to play in Europe with Porto and latter transferred to Russia but without success. Leonardo chased Silva for five months before greenlighting a move to San Siro. Thiago Silva stayed in Italy just for three years but during this period he became the best defender in the world. His departure to PSG left a huge void in the Rossoneri defence.
The only time Leonardo missed his target was with Felipe Mattioni. Few Rossoneri fans remember him but the promising young defender arrived on loan on January 2009. He made only one appearance and at the end of the season AC Milan opted against making his mover permanent. Still, so far, history demonstrates the great intuition of Leonardo. Could Reinier continue this trend?