£50 million for Torres, £35 million for Carroll; Clubs after a quick fix and willing to pay over the odds for a player and satisfying the cries for a big money signing from the fans? Let me introduce you to a man who never lived up to the expectations.
Denilson de Oliveira Araujo or just plain and simple Denilson to his friends, ring any bells? I thought not.
Playing for Sao Paulo in his native Brazil at the tender age of 17, Denilson was already making a name for himself playing in the Copa CONMEBOL and winning the competition. The big guns of Europe were all aware of his talents and similarly to Diego, Kaka, Pato and the likes after him, a big move was destined for him. A big move came but not a move many imagined.
In the summer of 1998 Denilson completed his dream move to Europe in a world record fee of £21.5 million but instead of Milan, Manchester or Madrid, he found himself in Seville having signed for Real Betis. Betis were an ambitious club but a club without a Russian sugar daddy with the only recent success being the runners up of the Spanish cup the previous season.
Denilson found it tough in Spain, finishing his first season with 2 goals in 35 appearances. His second season was worse with Betis getting relegated to the Segunda B. A loan period with Flamengo was next for this tricky winger but by the time he came back and Betis had achieved promotion and a Uefa Cup position; he was nothing but a fringe player.
France was next, with Denilson eager to prove he could cut it at the top level, Bordeaux was his destination this time round. A good season was had and Bordeaux were narrowly piped at the post by Lyon. However talks broke down between club and player, wage demands were too high for the club and the now well travelled Brazilian international was clocking up some air miles once more.
Saudi Arabia, USA, Brazil and Vietnam were all stop offs in Denilson’s disappointing career. One final stab at European football fell through with Kavala in Greece and he retired in 2010 at the age of 34.
Having won 68 caps for Brazil people will argue that his career was not wasted but those caps were won between 1996 and 2003 when he was in his prime. I feel that the price tag was all too much for him. Betis tried to make headlines, paying over the odds for a player that was not established, especially not in Europe. The club are to blame of course, paying way over the odds but also Denilson is too for believing the hype. Like a good friend of mine once said “transfer fees are just business transactions, and we’d be wise not to take the numbers too seriously.”