The misunderstood Paquetá, who became “the tiger of Lyon” after the flop at Milan

The difficult parenthesis of the Brazilian player in the Rossoneri: from the comparison with Kakà to the transfer, “I had no friends at Milan”. At West Ham for 60 M.

“Paqueta he has some difficulties with his positions on the pitch: he’s a player with particular characteristics, let’s see what the market will tell us “: it is September 18, 2020 and the adventure of Lucas Tolentino Coelho de Lima al Milan it’s pretty much over, but not in the worst way. There are two possible “universal” reasons that could somehow have irreversibly changed the timeline of “our” (understood as we know) Paquetà, moving it away from its destiny, in a clear way: the first takes the name of Neymarthe second of Ricardo Kaka. But we get there calmly.

In January 2019 Lucas is undoubtedly one of the most interesting products of the Brazilian football movement, scalded by the failure of the European explosion of Gabriel Barbosa (Gabigol) and the international one of Gabriel Jesus, one 1996, the other 1997. Practically his peers. Some might object by citing the numbers of the former Inter with Flamengo, named “South American footballer of the year” in 2019, or those of the former Manchester City: the expectations on both, however, were frighteningly high. To this is added the beginning of the descent of Neymar’s parable, which has reached the present day. Unlike them, however, Paquetà represented above all a unicum.

“He lived through difficult times, but he overcame them: we know how hard he worked to get to where he is”, explained in 2017 Zé Ricardowho followed him for all the Flamengo youth teams, coming to coach him in the first team between 2016 and 2017.

The emphasis of Zé Ricardo is not accidental: Paquetà is not born as a striker, nor does he have the pace to make the attack winger. He has excellent insertion skills between the lines and this has made him grow both as a mid-winger and as a playmaker: what you notice, however, is that Lucas, since the early years of his career, does not have a well-defined role. It is, in fact, a singularity.

The first, true, attempt at “evolution” of Paquetà, however, is the work of Reinaldo Rueda, which takes over from Zé Ricardo in the current season: the Honduran ranks him, in the absence of alternatives, as a false nueve. The Brazilian explodes: the peculiarity of him mainly concerns the composure in the first check, as technical as few. There is little to say: he is named best player of the South American Cup final lost to Independiente. In 2018 he was moved to the left, but always in attack, thanks to the experience gained from the offensive point of view in the previous season. With these premises Lucas introduces himself to Milan: it’s not the new Neymar. It could not be: one of the most representative players of his generation, however, yes.

From a symbolic point of view, the arrival of Lucas in Italy faithfully recalls the link with the roots expressed by his nickname: “Paqueta” derives from the homonymous island in the Guanabara Bay, in Rio de Janeiro, and has no random name. It is a natural paradise where cars are not allowed, carefully replaced by bicycles and horse trails. In the Tupi language, one of the oldest spoken on the Atlantic coast of Brazil, “Paquetà” does not mean that “Many shells”. The Brazilian footballer is one of them.

Beautiful to look at, when the sea recedes, letting the sand absorb its waters, fleeting in their shine in the sun: and just like a beautiful shell it is easy to get tired of it, once torn from its roots. The Rossoneri beat the competition from PSG and brought him to Serie A for almost 40 million. It is an important investment, perhaps too much, but it has a reason.

In the team of Gennaro Gattuso Paquetà can play three different roles in the 4-3-3: mid-winger, winger and false nueve. The current Valencia coach has opted for the former since January, in the median completed by Bakayoko and Calhanoglu. That group also includes Suso, Castillejo, Piatek (just bought from Genoa, in the winter market) and Kessié. The Brazilian never leaves the midfield line.

It is not an involution: it is the perfect technical glue between the two departments, under construction and finalization: from a statistical point of view, however, Paquetà will score two assists against Roma in Serie A and against Napoli in the Italian Cup. , both for Piatek, and only one goal. The only one, among other things, of his adventure in the Rossoneri: it is the perfect synthesis of what potentially could have been the Brazilian. In one of the moments of greatest offensive propensity of Gattuso’s formation, against Cagliari at San Siro, Paquetà remains high, but escapes the control of the zone defense of Rolando Maran’s formation. What is striking is above all the intelligence of the player (momentarily out of position), who on the defensive rebound and at the moment of control of Calabria, exactly on the other side of the penalty area from his position, knows perfectly where to insert himself to collect the cross. and hit on the far post, beating Cragno with the left-handed. Perfect execution.

Beyond a physicality it constantly does improve by the standards of Italian football. Paquetà proves above all not very constant in his performance, but one of his biggest problems at Milan remains the perennial approach to Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite. Kaka.

“He was one of my idols and my dream is to be able to do well in Milan as he did”: it is not a hope, it is a promise made to those present at the Tom Jobim airport in Rio de Janeiro before leaving for Italy. Obviously disregarded.

He betrays the movement with his arm bent half-length in control: setting one of the most important legends of Milan as the point of arrival, however, was not the best possible move for Paquetà, who with the arrival of Stefano Pioli, who took over from Marco Giampaolo at the end of 2019 definitively loses almost every possibility of leaving his mark in the Rossoneri history.

According to Zé Ricardo, Paquetà has returned to Milan only 30% of his chances: Pioli, as reported in the incipit of this article, puts him on the market on the eve of the 2020/21 season. In the Rossoneri, the hopes of recovering the investment carried out a few years earlier are reduced to a flicker, but in the management they manage to sell it toOlympique Lyon for 21 million euros. She didn’t go badly.

There is a simple question, however, relating to shells that is worth addressing, briefly: the beauty of each of them is purely subjective, especially when compared to the context. Paquetà in France is reborn. Thanks to Rudi Garcia before and of Peter Bosz after: at the end of January 2021 France Football even dedicates the first page to him. “Le tigre de Lyon”: the tiger of Lyon. Not bad.


“At Milan I had no friends: this makes the difference for a Brazilian. This is Paquetà “he explained to Canal + at that time.

The Brazilian player seen in Italy, in the Rossoneri, no longer exists: he has just landed in the Premier League, side West Ham for 60 million euros. AC Milan made him start lightly, but if he still improves it cannot be a regret: the Paquetà seen in Serie A was a player so incomplete and not very constant that he could not feed any kind of regret. The one seen in France, from a statistical point of view, brings with it 21 goals in 80 appearances at Lyon: from the one linked to the show, the Funky movements of his celebrations with the number 10 on his shoulders. As at the Parc des Princes, after having punctured PSG and Gianluigi Donnarumma with a central cut as a pure striker, concluded with a left-handed cue in the corner, on the near post. “This is Paquetà”: it’s really true. A shell from the homonymous island of Rio de Janeiro, misunderstood in the light of the Rossoneri sun, explained, smoothed and translated, in its simplicity and without heavy labels, by time.