- Name: Paulo Henrique “Ganso” de Lima
- Date of Birth: October 12th, 1989
- Nationality: Brazilian
- Position: Central Attacking Midfielder
- Club: Santos
Making his Name:
Like many young Brazilians Ganso played futsal, where from the ages of 7 to 14 he showed early signs of his potential. After a brief spell at Paysandu’s youth team, now-retired Brazil and Santos star Giovanni discovered Ganso and recommended him to Santos. In 2005, at the age of 15, young Ganso joined the famed Santos youth system. By 2007 he was seen as a potential star by Santos, and his play during the Sub-20 Campeonato Paulista (a state competition in Brazil) started garnering national attention from youth football experts. Going into the 2008 Copinha (Brazil’s major national youth competition), Santos, with their #10 Ganso, were one of the favorites. Although Santos disappointed overall with a quarter-finals exit, Ganso did enough to justify the hype and as a result was promoted to the main Santos squad, earning a new five-year contract on the way.
Ganso made his Santos debut on February 17th, 2008, but would go on to only play 7 games for the full Santos squad that year.In 2009, under a new manager and playing philosophy, Ganso was finally given a real opportunity to prove himself. He wouldn’t need a second chance, almost instantly making himself irreplaceable for Santos. He finished the 2009 season with 46 appearances, and a nomination for the “Revelation of the Season” award. 2010 would bring even greater success for Ganso, earning him his first professional silverware in the São Paulo State Championship and Brazilian Cup. Ganso, alongside fellow young star Neymar, were part of a Santos side that drew national and international acclaim. So much was the excitement surrounding the two young players that a movement for their inclusion in Brazil’s 2010 World Cup squad swept the nation and made headlines for months in the buildup to the tournament. Ganso eventually would make it into Dunga’s Backup squad, but because no injuries to the main squad occurred Ganso’s services were not required. The first act of Brazil’s new post-World Cup coach Mano Menezes was to give Ganso his national team debut, where he starred in a win over the USA in an international friendly. Just as it looked like he would be given a run in the Brazilian squad with the famous #10 jersey, Ganso suffered an unfortunate knee injury that would keep him out of the game until March of 2011.
Style of Play:
Ganso plays as a classic #10 in the centre of the pitch where he involves himself in much of the attacking build up. Nicknamed “The Chess Player”, Ganso is gifted with extraordinary creative vision. Defense-piercing passes that are perfectly weighted are his trademark. He couples this with considerable technique and skills, creating a dual-threat of either beating a defender or picking out a teammate with a killer ball that is a constant headache for defenders. He can also hold the ball very well, meaning that if the perfect play is still a few moments away, he can wait for it to arise. If that were not enough, Ganso has a powerful shot from distance that requires defenders to cut him down quickly. When they do so expecting a shot, this sometimes leaves the defense exposed for a pass. Ganso understands this well, showing quick-thinking and game awareness hard to find in players of his age. He isn’t the fastest of players, but he does benefit from playing with pacey strikers and forwards who can make smart runs for Ganso to feed them the ball. This is a big part of the reason why his partnerships with Neymar, Andre, and Robinho at Santos were so successful.
Ganso just returned from his long-term injury this month, and has seemingly immediately gone back to top form with a couple of impressive performances. If they continue it won’t be long before him and Neymar once again make the weekly highlight reels of Brazil and elsewhere. Although his return from injury was too recent to make the latest Brazil squad, the expectation is that it won’t be long before he gets to make his second national team appearance. In terms of his club future, Ganso had been courted by Inter Milan and supposedly talks often with their Brazilian manager Leornado. Although he has a contract with Santos until 2015, Ganso has been vocal in his unhappiness of his wages and the high buyout clause (€35 million) which he sees as prohibitive of an European move. He claims to be happy at Santos, but many expect an European move this summer.