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Where Are They Now? The decline of Anderson – the Brazilian magician

Much was expected when Anderson signed for Manchester United, but despite winning a host of trophies in his eight-year spell at the club, he never really lived up to those expectations.

Manchester United signed Brazilian midfielder Anderson from Porto for an undisclosed fee in 2007, thought to be roughly thirty million euros, despite him being only nineteen. He certainly had a successful start to his United career, winning the prestigious golden boy award in 2008, which is awarded to the best under 21 player in Europe. That was also the year United beat Chelsea on penalties in Moscow to lift the Champions League, and whilst Anderson came on late on as a substitute and didn’t touch the ball in open play, he scored the winning penalty.

In addition to this, he picked up four Premier League winners’ medals, a League Cup winners’ medal, and a FIFA Club World Cup winners’ medal. He made 179 appearances in total, but most of these came under Sir Alex Ferguson. He fell out of favour under David Moyes and was loaned out to Fiorentina. He didn’t find much success under Louis van Gaal either and was sold to Internacional in 2015. He was originally coined ‘our midfield magician’ by United fans, and his bubbly personality quickly earned him the liking of his teammates. So, what went wrong for him?

Anderson’s United career was blighted by injury as well as disciplinary issues. He ruptured his cruciate ligament in 2010, ruling him out for six months and resulting in him missing the World Cup. He also missed a large chunk of the 2011-12 campaign because of various injuries. His weight was also a constant issue, and he certainly took a relaxed approach to his fitness, which often meant injuries sidelined him for longer than they should have.

During matches, he was visibly struggling to cope with playing for ninety minutes in central midfield. This is illustrated by a staggering statistic-in seventy starts in the League, he was substituted 51 times. It was something some of his teammates noticed too. Gary Neville said of him:

“He was a big-game player with a big-game mentality and lots of skill, but was never fit enough to do it consistently week in week out in the Premier League, and that’s a real shame.”

This sums up Anderson excellently. He was naturally gifted, of that there’s no question. However, his dislike for intense training combined with his partying habits meant he arguably turned out to be one of Sir Alex’s most disappointing signings.

Since leaving the club, Anderson’s career has continued on a downward spiral. In only his second match for Internacional, he was infamously substituted after thirty-six minutes as he was struggling to cope with the high altitude of the stadium, resulting in him having to use an oxygen mask. After a couple of mixed seasons with Inter, he was loaned out to Coritiba. After a season there, Internacional released him, and he is now a free agent at the age of thirty.

Anderson will be hoping to find himself a new club soon, ideally in Brazil so he can remain close to his five children. However, he may well (and should) be wondering what could have been for a career that initially promised so much, but seriously under delivered.

Written by Rob Potter

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