As Ryan will tell you, there are a few players I have massive crushes on in North and South America. I'm like a football hipster of sorts. I have my players that I liked before anyone else did. One of those players is Santos FC attacking midfielder Paulo Henrique Ganso. About a month ago, Ganso injured his hamstring, but he recovered in time for the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final. In his first competitive match in a month, Ganso was brilliant and Santos won the South American crown 2-1.
Ganso has struggled with injuries over the last year, but in in the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A in 2009, he was absolutely stunning, scoring 8 goals in 31 appearances from midfield. His combination with the more hyped Neymar are pretty stunning, and it's a shame that the two will problably never play together at club level again after last night's match.
Signing Ganso isn't a complete fantasy for Spurs, but it's a bit out there. Santos are likely to demand £15-20 million for the player, and while he's worth it, Daniel Levy and Harry Redknapp aren't buying. However, if Luka Modric does leave for £30-35m, which looks increasingly unlikely, he would be an ideal replacement. While Ganso would probably take a year or two to adjust to the Premier League, the wait would ultimately be worth it.
Right now, the most likely suitor for Ganso seems to be A.C. Milan. They're loaded with top quality strikers and defensive midfielders, but they have never replaced Kaka. Kevin-Prince Boateng is more of a box to box midfielder, while Clarence Seedorf's days are numbered. Milan would love to play a 4-2-1-3 formation with Ganso in front of two holding midfielders and behind Robinho, Pato, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Of course, we could have multiple uses for Ganso. He'd be a great backup for Rafael van der Vaart for a year or two, and he could also be molded into the deeper role as a replacement for Luka Modric. Ganso hasn't been asked to defend in Brazil, but he's a good sized dude and a fast learner who seems to have a good work ethic. I wouldn't put it past him to learn a deep lying playmaker role.
Spurs don't have the money to buy Ganso right now and he's probably not on our radar screen at all, but if the management and fans were willing to be patient with him, he'd be an absolute steal at £15 million and still a solid value at £20 million.