Premier League clubs may now regret not having signed Walace in the January transfer window.
The Olympic winner had finished a very good 2016 season with Grêmio, where he also lifted the Copa do Brasil trophy. That’s when the European interest showed up, with clubs from England, Germany and Italy all wanting him. After a month trying to convince Grêmio, Hamburg ended up signing the midfielder in a €9m deal and had some immediate results.
Walace joined the squad in late January and was only left out of the first game while he worked on his adaptation. Since then, he started all of Hamburg’s four matches last month, showing he was up for the task.
Sport Witness spoke to Walace’s agent Rogerio Braun, who revealed that this quick impact was exactly something the English clubs were concerned about.
“The point was that the teams had doubts about Walace’s capacity to adapt,” Braun told Sport Witness.
“The expectation was that he would play in four, five months. That is, the following season. Perhaps the clubs that had interest, Watford, Leicester, Everton, Lazio… they had doubts if he could play immediately”.
“Hamburg, because of the necessities, and of course, having the financial means to do so, ended up making the decision. And the fact is that Walace is now a starter for Hamburg in less than a month of activity.”
The agent revealed he even agreed with Leicester, Everton and Watford that the player could take more time do adapt: “Other clubs may have thought that he would need more time. I believe that the clubs in England, in particular, had doubts. And it’s a doubt that I can even understand as reasonable.
“So maybe that’s why they decided to sign players who were already adapted, who were in Europe, playing in competitions that were already halfway through.”
“Walace came from the end of the season, long vacations, technical and physical level still not ideal, they were below. Summer here, winter in Europe. So there were a lot of bad things. Language, intensity of the game, ambiance with club, city, family. So much had to happen.
“But thank God, I say, we’re through 90% of it all. So Walace is now a Brazilian playing in Europe. And I think that today the clubs who were following him before, and that will return to follow or keep following will say: Well, he has adapted. He’s a player who can play here in Europe because he has already overcome this initial moment.”
Everton, Leicester City and Stoke City have been linked to the player even after the Hamburg move, but Braun claimed he hasn’t been recently contacted by any of these sides.
However, if the English sides really go for the midfielder, they certainly won’t find a bargain. With Walace succeeding in Europe, things won’t be easy as it would have been to take him from South America, and €9m will be far from enough for the purchase.
The doubts of Leicester, Everton and Watford look to be working to the benefit for Hamburg.