How Arsenal flop Andre Santos is re-inventing himself in Brazil

Andre Santos 2

Arsenal defender Andre Santos is enjoying himself back in Brazil.

Andre Santos was practically laughed out of Arsenal, his below-par performances leading to the Gunners sending him to Brazil on a one-way ticket in July.

He signed for Flamengo for an undisclosed fee, thought to be a minute fraction of the £6.2 million Arsenal paid for him in 2011.

A short spell on loan at Gremio had seen Santos called back into the Brazilian national side, only to be dropped again ahead of the Confederations Cup.

His time in England saw his haphazard defending criticised regularly, with his final performance one which saw Jordan Henderson of Liverpool race past him like he were a traffic cone en route to scoring a goal.

Then there was the half-time shirt swapping incident with Robin van Persie which caused outrage among Arsenal fans, with Santos putting it down to 'cultural differences.'

Back in Brazil he certainly seems more at home, but is also adding a new string to his bow.

In his seven performances in the Brasileirao since signing with Flamengo, Andre Santos has played just two in the familiar left-back position.

His other five performances have seen him feature on the left wing or in central midfield with Flamengo toying with a 4-2-2-2 formation.

This is due to Flamengo also having confidence in left-back Joao Paulo, who himself only signed with the club in 2013 billed as the 'best in the league'.

Santos and Joao Paulo are being alternated, but at the same time the former Arsenal man has been deemed undroppable since arriving at the club.

he has been an ever present, but Flamengo are at present a poor side, they have dropped to 15th in the league after 19 games.

Santos has been moved around, reverting to left-back over the past two games, but the last time Flamengo kept a clean sheet, Santos was in midfield.

That may not be coincidence, and Santos' attacking instincts are beginning to show encouraging signs. While he has just one assist to his name, the former Gunner has a better ratio of key passes per game (1.7 on average) than any other teammate.

He also leads the team in dribbling (1.1 per game) compared to his nearest teammate on 0.8 per game. Santos's average of 55.4 passes per game is the second highest among his team.

He appears to be enjoying his football again, being let loose to attack from midfield. Santos may hope his two-game stint back at left-back is just a temporary one, and based on our experience from his time in England, midfield may just be where he can do the least harm.

image: © wonker

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