The Internacional striker has all the right attributes to become a top class striker and could well be an integral part of the next World Cup on home soil.
Leandro Damiao has been at the top of his game in the past month, accumulating 9 goals in his past 10 games in all competitions. Three of these goals helped lead his team to victory in the Recopa Sudamericana over Independiente. Further to this, he scored 17 goals in just 13 State Championship matches at the beginning of the year. Such a record is extremely impressive and not to be ignored.
Damiao has one particular ability that sets him apart from a typical Brazilian striker. That is the aptitude to score any type of goal, from acrobatics to headers. His competence in the air, giving the option for him to be deployed as a quality target man, is something that has been missing from previous Brazil squads.
Indeed his rich vein of form has not gone unnoticed, garnering interest and repeated bids from Tottenham Hotspur. He is seen by many as one of the fastest rising prospects in South American football and his club are awaiting a bid that will match that label. It is unlikely that he will move during this transfer window, as it coincides with the middle of the Brazilian domestic season.
Mano Menezes has also recognised the consistently first-rate performances of the young striker, rewarding him with a place in the Brazil squad to face Ghana on September the 5th.
After a disappointing Copa America, Menezes has drafted in new players to his squad as they begin to prepare for the World Cup. Damiao will provide Brazil with a different option up-front, a similar role played by Fred at the Copa America. However, Fred’s goal scoring ability is questionable and so the Internacional forward may well be the ideal replacement.
Brazil struggled in the Copa America as they did not have enough diversity among their attacking options. Whilst Pato, Neymar and Robinho are all extremely adept at taking on and committing players, there was no focal point to the attack. Damiao could take on that mantel. He offers the option to play the ball into someone who will hold the play and involve his team mates, as well as being a threat in the area.
However, some believe the faltering performances of late have been due to the pressure placed on young, inexperienced Brazilian players. Neymar and Ganso were both given key roles in the Copa America and arguably struggled with the responsibility placed upon them. So how will the introduction of Damiao, with only 2 previous international caps, be any different?
The answer coming in that Brazil have no competitive fixtures, despite the Confederations Cup in 2013, until the World Cup in 2014. This will enable Damiao to be integrated into the team comfortably, gaining more experience playing in the national colours.
This could begin against Ghana on Monday, if he is offered enough playing time. Performing in the majority of the country’s friendly games, as well as the Confederations Cup would provide part of a solid preparation for the World Cup.
When coupling this with the likelihood he will simultaneously be playing at the highest level in club competition, Damiao will be well equipped to lead the line for his country. A move to Europe will aid his ability to perform under great amounts of pressure, which will hold him in good stead for the World Cup.
The Internacional man will be almost 25 when the World Cup begins in Brazil and can turn himself into an integral part of his national team’s line up. With a bit of luck on the way he could become one of Brazil’s most accomplished players and a catalyst for a change in fortunes of the Brazilian national team.
Read more from Tom at his excellent blog Purple Patch