The recent sale of Vitor Flora back to Brazil brings to an end a curious saga of a player who came out of nowhere and looks to have faded back into obscurity. Flora’s move to Liverpool back in summer of 2008 was just as much of a surprise to football observers in Brazil as it was to those in England. Basically, knowledge of Flora’s abilities was not known far outside of his club, regional division side Botafogo Ribeirão Preto, but he somehow became a target of Liverpool FC. Even in nearby city Sao Paulo, his talents were unknown and although he had played for Santos in his early teens, he had returned home due to home sickness. A fledgling footballing career had seemingly stalled before it had even started.
The young striker however got a lucky break. His performances in the U17 Paulista Championship were collated by his father and agent in video footage, and were posted online for the world to see. In a very modern form of scouting, Flora was discovered by some of Europe’s and Brazil’s top clubs on the internet, and scouts came from all parts to see the young Brazilian. Gremio, Cruzeiro and former club Santos were all interested in the player while Juventus even gave Flora a trial in view to a permanent move. Liverpool however got the player after scouts went out to watch the player to see if he was of the required standard to play in the Premier League.
Flora joined Liverpool in the summer of 2008 and the 18 year old was selected straight away for reserve team action under Gary Ablett. He played only 9 games and scored two goals in his first season at the club at reserve level, but his appearances were reduced even further this season under John McMahon, only appearing once as a substitute this campaign. The fact that he never broke into the starting eleven for the second string must have meant that it was clear from an early stage that Flora was not at the required level to play in England. His contract was ending at the end of the season, and rather than offering him a new deal, the Reds decided to offload the forward back to Brazil with Goias Esporte Clube on Tuesday.
A player who was unknown outside his hometown in Brazil, was brought halfway across the world to Liverpool despite his low reputation, it is something more out of movie than a football transfer. Teams are so desperate these days to find the next Lionel Messi or Cesc Fabregas that they are willing scour the globe for young talent, relying sometimes just on video footage and word from local scouts that players are good enough. The club and the Academy should really be focused on developing home grown talent rather than paying sizeable amounts of money to agents and clubs to bring young undeveloped players from abroad. These players sometimes find it difficult to settle in a new country away from their family and it can stunt their development as footballers rather than develop them.
Hopefully now that Rafa Benitez has reorganised the youth setup with Frank McParland, Jose Segura and Rodolfo Borrell, player focus will go more towards developing talent from the Liverpool area, rather than bringing players from all around the world to bring into the youth system. Certainly if we discover a new Lionel Messi, we should try our utmost to get him, but, with all due respect to the lad, there must be less Vitor Flora’s in the future because there is enough talent in England for us not to have to pick out players from abroad who are just not good enough.
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