Liverpool were so desperate they signed Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson; Milan have resorted to playing Flamini and De Jong; and, last season, Manchester United were so bereft of quality they had to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement.
It’s enough to make you wonder what happened to all the midfielders. They must be pretty rare these days if the big clubs are finding it such a struggle. You wouldn’t expect experienced managers to blow their cash on inferior replacements without first scouring the globe for more talented options. But, they obviously didn’t look in that little known footballing backwater called Rome.
That no club bid for Hernanes was one of the great mysteries of the last transfer window. Have I been deceived, is Hernanes not one of the best central midfielders not currently attached to major club? (no offence, Lazio).
This will be Hernanes third season in Rome, and few would dispute that he has been one of Serie A’s most impressive imports since his arrival in 2010 (20 goals in 68 appearances). A central midfielder with tremendous attacking ability, he can go past players, shoot from distance, and create chances with perfectly weighted passes.
I’m not going to suggest players should be signed on the strength of a YouTube compilation*. It’s easy to be an armchair pundit; perhaps I am missing some obvious deficiency that a professional coach would not overlook. But, if you want a moment to sum up what Hernanes can do, the clip below is a great example: setting up Lazio’s winner during a 1-0 victory over Brescia in 2010. I remember watching highlights of this game on holiday and thinking ‘shit, he’s good’ – because that’s the kind of World Football Expert I am. I’ve watched him since, and he’s been consistently brilliant. I wallow in smug satisfaction at having proved myself right. And yet, no bids. I don’t get it.
* this collection of highlights from his time at Sao Paulo is pretty sweet, though.