As you know, FC Barcelona's latest signing of the summer comes by the name of Douglas Pereira. The 24-year-old right-back will be officially presented as a Blaugrana on Friday at the Camp Nou, after he goes through medicals and signs his five-year contract.
When you heard the news, you possibly asked yourself: "Just who the hell is Douglas?", and you're not wrong to do that. Douglas has spent three of his four years under the radar, and hasn't impressed a lot in his first season in the "big leagues", so to speak. His signing surprised pretty much 110% of the people, and there's still a lot of work to be done in terms of finding out who Douglas is.
So don't worry, Barça Blaugranes has got you covered! From now on, read a comprehensive scouting report on the Brazilian, and get an idea of how good he is -- or isn't -- and what he brings to the table in terms of the future. So get ready, here we go!
Now, before we start, I have to be honest with you guys. When some of you asked me about who Douglas was, I was a little biased. I'm a diehard São Paulo FC fan, and São Paulo FC fans simply hate Douglas, just by the sake of hating him. There's no real reason to, we just decided to hate him because we are stupid diehard fans. When I was asked about the rumor, I gave the "hater" response, because I never thought it would materialize. I thought to myself "there's no way Barça is buying Douglas", and I just made fun of him, as you can see below:
@BlaugranesBarca I know who he is. A lot, actually. And I wish I didn't.— Renato Gonçalves (@_Renato_21) August 16, 2014
.@Adigun400Fatai Douglas is actually a poor winger who became an even worse full-back.— Renato Gonçalves (@_Renato_21) August 16, 2014
I'm sorry, I was a little harsh on Douglas, but it wasn't sincere. I wasn't even thinking about the guy, just making fun. From now on, this is serious. This is what I actually think of the guy.
Okay, let's get this out of the way: Douglas is not terrible. Not even poor. Not even bad. He is, actually, pretty good. At Goiás, his first club, he was a MACHINE of attacking from the right side. He was unstoppable. He was protected enough to the point where defending was not really a priority, so going forward is his main quality.
Moving from Goiás to São Paulo FC, one of the five biggest Brazilian clubs, Douglas had to deal with the pressure of being the first great right-back since Cicinho -- remember, the one who played at Real Madrid with Robinho and at Roma, among others? -- so he had to meet unrealistic expectations. São Paulo fans never got behind him, mostly because they are skeptical of everybody who plays there, except Rogério Ceni, their legendary goalie, and Kaká, because he began his career there. Everyone else has to gain the people's love, and it's not easy.
Back to Douglas: His tenure at São Paulo was a decent to good one. He never became a star, because he is not meant to be one. He is a complementary piece. You can't expect much of him, because he doesn't want the spotlight. He likes to do his thing and not get in the way of others.
These are the intangibles. Now, the more evident stuff. Douglas is a really good offensive player. He is pretty much a winger when the team is on attack, and he will make cuts to the box so he can receive long passes from the midfielders. Once he has the ball, he ALWAYS looks to pass and set up his teammates. He doesn't attempt a crazy shot, or dribble, or fancy moves. He plays within himself, doing the best possible play.
Douglas is a good, reliable passer, with a 82% career accuracy, with an average of 44 passes a game -- at São Paulo, his touches per game went up to almost 60. Compared to Dani Alves and Montoya, the other two Barça right-backs, Douglas is a better passer, creates more opportunities for others and has a better offensive accuracy in terms of attempts to the goal. Even his crosses are more accurate.
When he gets chances to play at Barça, if he does it with the first team, Douglas is pretty much perfect for the system. Barça plays with a 3-man back-line while on offense, with Sergio Busquets dropping off to be closer to the center-backs. That gives the full-backs a lot more freedom than they had before. The signing of Rakitic was vital to keep the engine functioning. If a full-back goes too deep into the attack, Ivan and Iniesta will defend the sides, while the team already has three man on defense. If Douglas plays, he has more freedom to attack. That's what he does best, and that fits perfectly into Luis Enrique's scheme.
Montoya is a defensive right-back; Alves is a ultra-offensive one that takes too many risks. Douglas is in the middle. He's a decent defender when needed, yet an above-average offensive back who doesn't try too much. You might find it crazy, but Douglas is a younger version of Dani Alves. Alves matured at Barça, but he was exactly what Douglas is right now: an insane attacker, perfect for the Barça system, who just needs time to learn the Camp Nou ropes.
Of course, Dani is a better player. You don't become a Barcelona legend everyday. Douglas is not on his level. Yet. But he has the ingredients. Luis Enrique approved his signing immediately, so he's seeing something in Douglas than most fail to see.
As a São Paulo fan, I got to see Douglas play every Wednesday and Sunday since 2013. Believe me, he's good enough to play at Barcelona. If he develops, this can be the greatest steal of Barça's recent history. He'll have at least one year to learn, training alongside Alves. He'll learn from one of the best teachers ever at his position. Once Dani goes away, Douglas will possibly be ready to be the next great Brazilian right-back in Barça history.
Yes, that sentence seems a little crazy. But isn't this signing crazy in the first place?