Former Arsenal loanee in top form, with goal every 72 minutes

Julio Baptista returned to Brazil with Cruzeiro this summer ... and has been in fine form despite not being fully fit.

“What’s that coming over the hill, Julio Baptista, Julio Baptista’ sang to the melody of The Automatic’s one hit wonder ‘Monster’ was catchy, contemporary and indeed laced with irony.

The bullish striker arrived at The Emirates with a fascinating career story. While at Sevilla, as more of a box-to-box midfielder, he was asked to play as a striker during an injury crisis - and scored goals for fun. Think of him like Michu, but twice the width.

He then moved to Real Madrid, where things did not quite work out before Arsenal secured him on loan in 2006 - with a view to making the deal permanent in the summer of 2007.

He scored 10 goals in 35 appearances at Arsenal, most memorably of course the four he bagged against Liverpool in the League Cup. That feat however lost in chronological order after Andrey Arshavin repeated the magic.

But it was never enough to see him remain a Gunner - and he returned to Real Madrid at the end of the season.

‘The Beast’ then moved to Roma and then big-spending Malaga - both spells hindered by injury problems and a simple misunderstanding on both the player and clubs part as to where his best position on the pitch actually was.

But this summer, Malaga terminated his contract as part of their cost-cutting plans - and he was now a crocked 31-year-old free agent.

What next for the player?

Well, you don’t get 47 caps for Brazil for nothing, and in his homeland he was certainly not forgotten - and Cruzeiro soon snapped him up in the summer.

He arrived in Belo Horizonte still nursing injuries and fitness concerns, so has been restricted to just a handful of appearances - 360 minutes worth to be precise.

But that has not stopped him scoring five goals. Breaking that down for you, that is a goal every 72 minutes - according to my trustee calculator.

Not bad form considering most those goals have come from the bench.

Perhaps Julio Baptista is not over the hill just yet, but simply coming over it like The Automatic’s Monster once again.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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