Kicking off the new Twenty To Watch feature here on I like football me, where we will be profiling twenty players from the Brasileirão, I’d like to welcome my first guest contributer, Stefan Kelly. Stefan has developed a passionate interest in the Brasileirão, and today he will be talking about one of his favourite players, Botafogo’s Elkeson.
Quick, strong and often impossible to handle, Elkeson is a player knocking on Mano Menezes’ door with both hands. Used to full effect on the wing for Botafogo, he has the technical ability to take players on down the by-line or to come inside and release a powerful shot to match that of Hulk. His playing style is to take the game by the scruff of the neck and at one hundred miles per hour, and he is capable of adding a sense of directness to any side.
Forming a formidable partnership with Maicosuel, Herrera and Sebastian Abreu, Elkeson has been an essential component in Botafogo’s title challenge. He has scored 8 times this season, tying with Loco Abreu as the club’s top scorer, but it is what he offers in other sectors that makes him so valuable. His efforts on the wing are fantastic, troubling anyone in his way, and it is not uncommon to see him make his way down the touchline before squaring for a team mate to finish.
Watching him play this weekend against Bahia, it was clear to see that he was the sole shining light in a Botafogo side lacking the prosperous strike duo of Loco Abreu and Herrera. As soon as the match began, Elkeson was unplayable, winning foul after foul and threatening with every touch of the ball.
Elkeson is now 22 and is in a make-or-break period in his career. He will certainly have his admirers in Europe come the end of the season, but the question is if they will be the right ones. He is suited to a team like that of Porto rather than the Eastern European styles found in Ukraine and Russia, typically popular destinations for Brazilian players. He would offer something to any team in attack, whether that is scoring goals or laying them on for his team-mates. His set pieces are inch-perfect most of the time and his never-say-die attitude can win games by itself.
Elkeson’s recent domestic form has resulted not just in media attention, but he has also been noticed by Brazil coach Mano Menezes. Elkeson was included in the Brazil squad as an unused substitute for the Superclássico das Américas against Argentina. He faces fierce competition for a place in the Seleção, with players like Neymar, Ronaldinho, Diego Souza, Ganso, Elano, Lucas all contending for those attacking places in the Brazilian championship alone. However, his combination of physicality, pace and technical ability makes him a more versatile option than the average winger in Brazil.
Elkeson could be seen as a Hulk-style player. He is the type that full backs dread playing against, as he can weave in and out constantly on his way to goal. His record speaks for itself this season, especially in the big games. He can also be played up front, behind the striker as well as on both wings. He has the work-rate of an in-form Carlos Tévez, which has prompted the Rio club’s supporters to make him a fan favourite.
Unfortunately for them, I feel that a move to Europe awaits the man making waves in Brazil, as he has surpassed any expectations. He has without doubt both the quality, the attitude and the physical build to be successful wherever he goes. At 22, his peak may be quickly approaching and when it finally hits, Elkeson will be the name on millions of people’s lips.
Full name: Elkeson de Oliveira Cardoso
Place of Birth: Coelho Neto (MA)
Club(s): Vitória (2007 & 2008-11), Democrata GV-MG (2007) and Botafogo (since 2011)
Contracted until: 24/05/2015
To read more of Stefan’s work, take a look at The Midfield Diamond, World Soccer Scouts, and follow him on Twitter.