A few days ago, Fluminense played against Boca Juniors at home for the Copa Libertadores. Fluminense (unfortunately) lost the game, even though Boca Juniors missed their most important player with the absence of Juan Roman Riquelme, and had a terrible game. But they also had some bright spots in the shape of Deco, that one who had winning cameos at Porto, Barça and Chelsea, and Wellington Nem.
Apparently an Arsenal scout was attending the game, taking notes about the latter.
Fluminense has a tradition of breeding world class talent and then sending it (pretty cheap) to Europe. The most important players that came out of the youth ranks in the last few years were Thiago Silva (Milan), the "Man Utd twins" Rafael and Fábio, Marcelo (Real Madrid), Dedé (Vasco, soon Italy), Wellington Silva (Arsenal) and now Wellington Nem.
Nem (which is his nickname) came from a poor neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. He played in the youth ranks of América-RJ before being eventually moved to Xerém, Fluminense’s youth training center. His quality passing and speed made the coaches put him as a midfielder/attacking midfielder, and he was eventually called up to play for Brazil’s U17 squad at that position.
Still, with a fragile frame (1,62m and 72kg), even though he had sublime recovery he still was a liability when asked to drop back to mark and tackle. As the level of competition went up when he was loaned to Figueirense, Nem started to struggle with this specific characteristic of his game until Jorginho, former Brazil’s right back at 1994 World Cup championship and now coach, moved him to play as an fast attacker. That move made him shine; Nem went up to be Figueirense’s main weapon, scoring and assisting, and won the Brazilian National First Division Best Young Player last year.
Starting this year, Fluminense spent a lot of money bringing new players to be able to compete for the Copa Libertadores, something they almost got in 2008 against LDU. Nem went back to the team from his loan with a backup status, and promised to fight to take the starter spot. After tearing defenses apart at Rio State Championship and the poor form of Rafael Sóbis, Wellington Nem quickly became one of the most important pieces of Fluminense’s team this year.
He is a lefty and doesn’t seem too good with his right foot, but doesn’t stick to only one side of the pitch, even though he sometimes is asked to do so. When playing at Figueirense, he used to roam through the field, trying to find holes at the defense to run into. His dribbling and speed are important parts of his game; you’ll usually see him trying to get through many defenders with it, which might be a problem at first, but you can blame it on youth as he’s only 20 years old.
He doesn’t have a good frame, but that doesn’t make him susceptible to injury. And he has the habit of diving like many Brazilian youngsters, which is something profitable in Brazil as he’s been the main "reason" of penalties in favor of Fluminense. He even snatched one at the Boca game, which was wasted by Rafael Moura.
His shooting isn’t good either. He doesn’t score many goals even though he creates many chances, so he’s adapting his game to look more for the pass rather than shooting. Cutting inside for him is as easy as slicing butter with a hot knife, especially when he’s at the right side of the pitch, and you’ll see him dropping back to get the ball, maybe something he earned with the (many) years of playing as a midfielder.
He also seems to be pretty level-headed. While many players of his age are partying and enjoying "the riches", he is dating a girl from his neighborhood and his parents give him a lot of support and help him to focus on his game. A friend of mine happened to play with him at Xerém, and said he’s very humble and easy-going. He isn’t a leader, but he’s a very good person to have around in your group (hence his fight for the starting spot without blabbing and complaining).
CSKA Moscow had a bid of €5 million accepted by Fluminense to buy Wellington Nem, but the player refused to start talks with the team as his whole family and himself roots and dreams of him getting an important title with Fluminense (most likely the Copa Libertadores trophy, I expect). I think he won’t get out of the club as cheap that cheap as his value certainly raised, and if he eventually brings Fluminense the trophy, the value will reach astronomic proportions.
The good news for Arsenal is that Fluminense is under heavy trouble financially, needing any help to generate revenue. He’d come for a good €15~20 million, even though he wouldn’t be a starter from day one. But who knows if he could pull out an Oxlade-Chamberlain, destroy a game at his first opportunity and become a regular?
As always, let's go for some good highlights videos!
Wellington Nem Parte I (via iSports)
Wellington Nem (Parte 2) - WWW.BRAZILSOCCER.COM.BR (via iSports)