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Feb 20, 2020, 6:01:00 AM

How Flamengo Changed South American Soccer

Flamengo has joined the ranks of elite clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool.

The South American club has dominated all the tournaments in South America in 2019. Under manager Jorge Jesus, they have won a total of four massive tournaments in Brazil and all around South America. They have also reached the final of the FIFA Club World Cup where they lost to consensus best team in the world, Liverpool.

Flamengo has joined the ranks of elite clubs such as Liverpool, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. In the space of a year, Flamengo ended their title drought in the Brazilian leagues. With the acquisition of centrepieces like Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ Barbosa from Inter Milan and Bruno Henrique, Flamengo had their most successful season in its 109-year history as a club.

They also signed Uruguayan midfielder Giorgian de Arrascaeta for a record-setting deal R$63 million which is equivalent to €14.5 million. This trio will be the foundation of the club’s phenomenal year.

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Henrique garnered interest from multiple European clubs, but he chose to stay with Flamengo. Signing a contract with Flamengo until 2023, he earned Flamengo’s faith in him with an excellent campaign powered by 35 goals. He came second in the 2019 South American Player of the Year voting, with team-mate Gabigol winning the award.

He admitted that he received larger offers from other clubs. ‘Because of everything that happened to me in 2019, I received many proposals to leave. Better proposals financially. I talked to my family, and we chose to stay. We are very comfortable in Rio de Janeiro and with Flamengo. The structure is huge. Many European clubs do not have the structure that Flamengo has’.

With players like Gabigol and Henrique staying in Brazil, they chose to deny offers from Europe. It is evident from their decisions that moving from Europe to Brazil should not be considered as moving out of the spotlight. It should be seen as a choice to help elevate South America’s soccer to the level of the Europeans.

Gabigol’s recent commitment to Flamengo is a sign of what is to come for South American soccer. ‘For a player to be fulfilled, you don’t need to play in Europe and leave our country. We have a good league, Flamengo is on a very high level and has a coach who is one of the best in the world. I have a five-year contract with Flamengo, and I intend to respect it and stay here much longer’.

It is undeniable that Flamengo has changed the game. In a euro-centric soccer world, Flamengo is a club that symbolizes the possibilities outside the usual European leagues like the English Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga. With their success domestically, and internationally, Flamengo has definitely changed South American soccer for the better.

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Words: Cholo Martin

Image: PA