Reading made their first signing of the decade recently by bringing in Brazilian midfielder Felipe Araruna. Having not played in Europe before, he’s a player that few of us will know much about, so we’ve asked two people in the know about what to expect from the Royals’ new acquisition.
Robbie Blakeley is a football writer covering the Brazilian game, while Joshua Law edits the Yellow & Green Football website. Thanks to both of them for providing some insight on Araruna.
How would you sum up his career so far?
RB: His career has been a little stop-start to date. He had an excellent reputation in the São Paulo u-20 team and in 2017 travelled with the first team squad to play in the Florida Cup, a pre-season tournament. But with the sacking of then-coach Rogério Ceni he found first team opportunities hard to come by. He joined up with Ceni again at Fortaleza for the 2019 season.
JL: In a word; underwhelming. He was a promising youth player and did reasonably well when he came into the São Paulo team, but drifted to the fringes after a while. He wasn’t first choice at Fortaleza last year either, though he did play reasonably well when called upon.
What style of player is he?
RB: Versatility is one of his key assets. He can play at full back, where he is more defensively minded than most Brazilians you see in that position. He can also play as a holding midfielder protecting the back four but he has been most commonly seen in Brazil in the segundo voltante position, literally translated as second steering wheel, looking to pick the ball up in the middle of the park and build offensive plays.
JL: He’s a versatile player. He can play as a right-back, a holder in a 4-3-3 or as a more box-to-box player in a 4-4-2.
What are his main strengths?
RB: Again, I would put versatility down as a key strength, along with his speed, vision, crossing and comfort on the ball. He rarely looks rushed in possession and that can be key in a midfielder.
JL: I would say his positioning and combativeness are his main strengths. He’s always been diligent and committed when I’ve seen him, if not particularly flashy.
And his weaknesses?
RB: His main weakness playing in England may well be physique and playing in different weather conditions. The game in England will be far more physical than anything he has been used to so far in his short career, and certainly in the early stages of his time in England he could be bullied and harried off the ball.
JL: He’s not a creative player from what I’ve seen. He could still develop in this regard as he’s still fairly young and he might prove me wrong, but I can’t see him going to the Championship, controlling a game, spraying thirty-yard passes around and unlocking opposition defences.
What’s his character like, and how do Reading get the best out of him?
RB: Araruna is very much a confidence player. Speaking to other journalists in Brazil, particularly those based in São Paulo where he started his career, it is said that he responds much better to an arm around the shoulder than the hair dryer treatment. It may take some time and patience, but if Araruna believes he has the full support of the manager and the coaching staff then Reading fans should begin to see the best of their new player.
JL: He seems like a hard worker and it says a lot that Rogério Ceni, after he was sacked from São Paulo, took him on loan to Fortaleza. That shows that Ceni believed in him and felt he was a good character to have around the dressing room. I honestly don’t know enough about Reading to know how they’ll get the best out of him, sorry. He’s a useful, steady, versatile squad player, so he’ll help if you need someone like that.
On the whole, is he a good signing for Reading?
RB: He certainly has the potential to be an excellent signing for Reading. Much will depend on how he settles and acclimatises to his new surroundings, but Araruna has the technical ability to shine.
JL: He doesn’t fit the Brazilian stereotype of tricks and skill, but I imagine he’ll do OK for Reading, without pulling up any trees.