Reading have reportedly held talks with São Paulo over two of their midfielders: 23 year-old Felipe Araruna and 21 year-old Igor Liziero. Both deals are believed to be as a result of Alexandre Mattos’s recent appointment as sporting director. The Brazilian pair are not the first central midfielders that the club have been linked with this month, adding further fuel to the rumour that Reading are keen to add to that area of their squad. Here is a closer a look at both players’ careers to date, as well as their styles of play.
Araruna is a 23 year-old defensive midfielder who can also play as a right-back. He has recently returned from a loan spell away from São Paulo with fellow Brazilian side Fortaleza, where he made nine Série A appearances, often featuring on the bench. Araruna’s contract is up at the end of the calendar year, meaning the Royals may be able to agree a slightly lower fee for his services.
The 5”9 midfielder came through the youth ranks at São Paulo, where his talent was spotted by club legend Rogério Ceni when he was playing for the ‘U-20 multi-player team’. Araruna went on to make 19 league appearances for his boyhood club before joining Fortaleza on loan, just one day prior to manager Dorival Júnior’s sacking.
Araruna has been praised for his work rate and decision making; he is a fairly well-rounded player and can play further up the pitch if called upon. However, he has faced criticism in the past for his ‘negative’ style of play and occasionally passing sideways too often, rather than looking to thread the ball forward. The 23 year-old doesn't have a vast amount of appearances under his belt in recent years and may struggle to make the step up to Championship football: a league with usually at least two games a week, played at a consistently high tempo.
Araruna has reportedly received multiple overseas offers and will make up his mind within the next few days; admittedly it is less than likely that Berkshire will be his destination.
Liziero has been linked with moves to European giants Barcelona and Real Madrid over the past three months, so Reading is the obvious choice for him...
The youngster is very highly-rated and has featured over 60 times for São Paulo’s first team already. Similar to Araruna, Liziero came through the club’s academy to make his debut for the senior team under caretaker manager André Jardine, in March 2018.
The 21 year-old’s physical presence in the middle of the park has proved pivotal in some of São Paulo’s recent wins, and he has drawn comparisons to compatriot and former São Paulo star Casemiro, currently of Real Madrid. Liziero boasts a ball-winning prowess and has been referred to as an intelligent reader of the game, with impressive man-marking and interceptions. In addition to this defensive side of his game, Liziero is a natural free-kick taker and can impose himself when going forward, with exceptional vision and an eye for the right pass; he completed 89% of all attempted passes in 2019.
The Royals have been linked with a deal worth €7 million for Liziero; this would be paid in instalments rather than up front in order to avoid any issues with Financial Fair Play regulations, similar to the deal for George Pușcaș last summer. It’s been suggested that Reading are keen on bringing Liziero in on loan before signing him permanently, as they agreed to do with Ovie Ejaria. However, São Paulo are not happy with the proposal of an initial loan so the talks have reportedly stalled. Only time will tell how eager the Royals are to bring Liziero to Berkshire.
Both players already have European passports so, should the opportunity avail, they wouldn't struggle to gain a work permit. It seems odd that Reading should sign both Araruna and Liziero; however, if they came as a pair then it may cushion the inevitable culture shock, helping one another to adjust. If the rumours are true then Alexandre Mattos is not messing about - let’s just hope he turns out better than Ron Gourlay...