Brazil's best-supported club is being taken over by Argentina. Either that
or, as one wag put it, Argentina is being taken over by Corinthians.
The giant club from Sao Paulo have just appointed Daniel Passarella, former
captain and coach of Argentina, as their new boss.
Passarella is under pressure to prove himself to Brazilian fans
The team already includes his compatriots Carlos Tevez and Sebastian Dominguez and is also set to welcome Javier Mascherano in the middle of the year.
It is all the result of a controversial partnership between
Corinthians and London-based company MSI.
It is still very early days for the partnership and too soon to arrive at
definitive judgements but it is not too early to ask some questions.
Firstly, what criteria are being used in the signing of players?
The club seem very reluctant to spend money in Brazil. They are either buying Argentines or bringing Brazilians back from Europe. Why is this? Are they unwilling to have their money subjected to the controls of Brazil's Central
What is the footballing vision behind the signings? Is it really believed
that playmakers Roger and Carlos Alberto, both big-money acquisitions from
Europe, can work together? And can they establish a relationship with Tevez?
When Brazil started winning world titles its popular footballing culture decided it had little to learn from beyond its borders
Whose opinion is behind the signings? It certainly wasn't previous
coach Tite, sacked last week.
Secondly, where is the return expected to come from?
Tevez, for example, cost nearly $20 million, which many felt was double his true market value and the probability is that his value will fall.
He is not playing in the Copa Libertadores and he is having the inevitable problems of adaptation to life and football in a new country.
By all accounts, his understanding of Portuguese is still very limited and on the field he is clearly on a different wavelength from his team-mates.
It is possibly in an attempt to solve this problem that Passarella has been
brought on board.
But it is a move that is likely to cause as many problems
as it solves.
Tevez will doubtless enjoy having a coach he can understand but the rest of the squad might not share the same enthusiasm.
Some decades ago it was more common for foreign coaches to work in Brazilian
football. In recent years it has been all but unheard of.
When Brazil started winning world titles its popular footballing culture decided it had
little to learn from beyond its borders.
Hugo de Leon is currently in charge of Gremio and his fellow Uruguayan
Dario Pereyra has coached a number of top Brazilian clubs.
Both of them played in Brazil, speak the language and know the culture. That is not the
case with Passarella, who should prepare himself to face resistance inside
the dressing room and in the wider world of Brazilian football.
Therefore, Passarella is a gamble - and a hugely-expensive one at that. His
salary, $100,000 a month, is a fortune by South American standards.
There are many questions surrounding the partnership between Corinthians and
MSI but there is one certainty - they don't seem to mind spending money.