Pablo Guiñazu, Andrés D’Alessandro, Mario Bolatti, Jesus Datolo and now Diego Forlán. These are the five non-Brazilians Porto Alegre club Internacional now have on their books in what is an extremely strong squad, including Brazilian internationals Oscar and Leandro Damião. The problem? Ever since a new set rules were introduced to the Campeonato Brasileiro in 2006, clubs are only allowed to include just 3 foreign players in match day squads, whether that be on the field or on the bench.
Sure, having such a high concentration of talent in one squad can only improve the team that starts every week for Dorival Junior’s club, but it does come with it’s own issues. Out of this group of 5 talented players, all of which would be taken by any South American club should they be given the chance, there are only three candidates for the players to take up those three designated spots given to Internacional. And the other two? Well, they have to get out of there as soon as possible.
The first player destined to be a guaranteed inclusion in Dorival’s plans for the foreseeable future is their new world-renowned Uruguayan striker. Forlán may no longer hold the club form of a few years ago, but what Internacional have signed is not just an international striker capable of brilliance but he is also a big name, adding to the ever expanding list of those in Brazil’s premier domestic competition. Even in the case that he does not instantly rekindle any kind of form, Dorival may face severe pressure to include him. I do actually believe the Brasileiro is well suited to Forlán’s level at this point and that he can in fact succeed hugely in the colours of the 2010 Libertadores winners.
A second man who already has a designated match day spot with his name on it is El Cabezon himself, club captain Andres D’Alessandro. Possibly a man who has inexplicably slipped slightly under the radar in Porto Alegre in light of Oscar and Damião’s success, D’Alessandro showed towards the end of last season why he should still be considered Inter’s talisman and he’s brought that form to the pitch at the Beira-Rio continually since then. The little Argentine with the big head (physically not metaphorically) still has a place in the heart of any South American football fan and at 31, he still has at least five more years of either skilfully beating opponents, or physically beating them if the former is not successful.
Lastly, Internacional’s resident guardian of the back four and recent Argentina internacional, Pablo Guiñazu . Arguably the most terrifying man plying his trade in Brazil, Guiñazu is one of the league’s most consistent defensive midfielders over past seasons and although the occasional injury worry, he is a player Dorival Junior would be a lot worse off without. He has deservedly been able to bring his abilities to the international scene recently, making a cameo appearance in La Albiceleste’s 4-3 victory over Brazil’s Olympic squad.
Unfortunately, with these 3 carrying huge arguments for the cementing of their places in Internacional’s line ups for months to come, both Mario Bolatti and Jesus Datolo are at what can be considered a slight impasse in their respective careers. Bolatti (27) and Datolo (28) are both creative Argentine midfielders who came to Internacional from Europe in the last couple of years. Datolo in particular had a fantastic start to the Brasileiro season, thriving in the absence of Oscar on international duty, he played alongside D’Alessandro and frequently added to what is an impressive scoring record for Internacional for the short time he has been in Porto Alegre. Bolatti, a member or Argentina’s 2010 World Cup squad, was brought to Internacional for a fee of 4.5 million euros.
It has been mentioned often recently that Brazil’s foreigner rule of just three in a match day squad should be changed or indeed abolished completely, and as Internacional’s situation highlights, there are truly very important reasons as to why this argument should be paid attention to.
There is no doubt that the transfers of foreign players to Brazil has improved the league hugely, with many clubs giving their designated spots to only the best and as a result their star players. Walter Montillo for example, an Argentine who is Cruzeiro’s most talented player. In my mind, there is no question that the abolishment to the current rules regarding foreigners could only result in the development in the league further as it continues to move towards the highest standard possible. If this direction is chosen the best the league can hope for is to become a hub of South American talent, which it is but only in limited strength because of the current rules.
However, this theoretical league system does not only reap positive results unfortunately. For example, the likelihood is that this would diminish the quality of other domestic leagues in South America. Yes, the Brasileiro would attract the best talents of Argentina, Chile etc. but the leagues of those countries would most likely drop in quality significantly if their most important players opt for higher pay cheques in a league that would most likely be a gateway to Europe for them.
Also, probably the main reason the CBF have held onto this rule, with the same going for the MLS among others, is that if their is a limit put on the amount of foreign players a club can have, then this raises the opportunity for young Brazilians to be groomed into the first teams of Brasileiro clubs, developing them into better players than they would be in the parallel universe Brasileiro full of Argentines and Chileans. This a perfectly good reason to keep this rule in effect, as it strides towards the ultimate goal of raising the standard of Brazilians and future national sides.
It seems this debate about whether the “8+3” rule should stay or not may rear its ugly head on many an occasion in the coming years, with more of the likes of Forlan and Seedorf bringing their talents to Brazil. But if the Campeonato Brasileiro does not want to simply stay at this standard for many more years, and begin to actually keep players throughout their careers, this system may not last too much longer at all.
This was written by Stefan Kelly, who you can follow on Twitter @StefanKelly. Comments below please.
AFC Leopards SC was established in 1964. It is built on a tradition of quality football on the field and a tight-knit social community off the field. This has enabled it to draw considerable interest and wide support both locally and internationally.