It must be an odd time to be Felipe Araruna. Reading’s January signing, who arrived on a free transfer from Sao Paulo, is in a weird state of limbo due to the coronavirus pandemic. He is simultaneously unable to train or play due to settle into English football, and unable to return home to Brazil.
It’s a similar situation to that of George Puscas, another young footballer going through his debut season in English football, and also cut off (physically at least) from his family. Puscas took the opportunity of having little to do during lockdown to talk to the Romanian media about his current situation, and Araruna has now done similar.
While Puscas’ interview focussed on the situation he’s in at the moment, Araruna’s goes more into his progress at Reading overall. In an interview with iG which you can read in full here, Araruna discussed adapting to English football and the club’s aborted move for Alexandre Mattos.
The most interesting quotes from Araruna are about how quickly he started to get game time at Reading. Of course, although he was match fit when he joined the club, you’d have thought he’d be eased into the side quite gently due to the stark differences in tempo and physicality.
“From five or six games that were available, I managed to play three. I didn’t expect anything so fast. I thought there would be a bigger process to adapt. The coach talked to me a lot, it was interesting that he watched a few Campeonato Brasileiro games to understand better. But the team ended up needing me so I already played some matches.”
Araruna portrays his introduction as him being thrown in at the deep end. Indeed, he was given three starts in five games, getting 63 minutes at right back/wingback against Hull City on his debut, 55 in central midfield against West Bromwich Albion and 45 on the right of a four-man midfield against Wigan Athletic.
When he says Mark Bowen “watched the championships”, I assume he means the manager looked at footage of Araruna in Brazil to learn out more about his game. Either way, he seems happy with how he’s been welcomed by Bowen, which is good to know.
Araruna’s abrupt start has given him a proper taste of what English football is like: fast-paced and physical. That’s certainly a culture shock for someone coming from (what I presume is) a slower, more technical version of the game in South America. Nonetheless, Araruna thinks he can improve with time - a sentiment shared by his former coach Michael Beale (now of Rangers) who told us that Araruna is mature enough to adapt well.
“The speed of the game, the intensity and the physical strength is different, which is something very relevant in the Championship. I know that I need to learn and get used to some aspects of this new style of play, but, over time, I’m sure things will get better and I will fit in.”
Araruna also discussed Alexandre Mattos’ brief link with Reading, and backed the executive to have succeeded if he’d joined the Royals.
“It was a surprise that Alexandre withdrew. For me it would have been very good (having him here), for there being another Brazilian at the club. I think that he is a winner in Brazil, he has worked with success at big clubs and I am sure he would have done (the same) here. The staff were looking forward to meeting him, but our goals continue and life carries on.”
Had Mattos joined Reading - a move that was reportedly influenced by Kia Joorabchian - he would have been the latest arrival in what’s looking somewhat like a Brazilian influx at the Madejski Stadium. Felipe Araruna and Rafael have played for the first team, while Pedro Neves and Werick Caetano are in the academy and could well make their debuts in the next season or so.
Araruna may be joined by more of his compatriots, possibly Igor Liziero who was linked with the club in January. As I argued at the start of February, these moves are likely part of a wider strategy of making the club’s outlook more global.
You can read the full piece with Araruna over at iG here. Thanks to Matthew Batten for help with translating the quotes in this article from the original Brazilian Portuguese.