The history of Ganso resembles the history of many other Brazilian young footballers all around the country. Born in distant Ananindeua, the 2nd biggest city of Pará, a state in the North region, Ganso started playing futsal (indoor football), like most Brazilian wonders, at the age of 7 at Tuna Luso Brasileira. There, he showed his technique and creativity by making marvelous through passes. Eventually, when he reached 15, he transfered to Paysandu's youth academy. A Santos scout and past idol, Giovanni, saw the kid and decided to bring him to Santos in 2005 with a bid of R$ 900.000 at the time. I don't have the data to translate it in euros or pounds, but it was a huge chunk of money for a player at his 16.
In 2007, he started to show his category and his injury proneness, becoming the definite number 10 for Santos under 20's team at the Copa São Paulo de Futebol Júnior, the most important youth competition in Brazil, in 2008. At the time, La Gazzetta dello Sport said he was one of the best prospects revealed by the competition.
And that's when his actual history begins.
2009 was the definite turning point. Like Neymar, Ganso was promoted to the main line-up of Santos, and both were vital to Santos' 2nd place at São Paulo State Championship. Santos didn't do much (again) in the Brazilian League at the year, but it was enough for most pundits to watch both of them play and to mark Ganso and Neymar as one of the most promising Brazilian youngsters of recent years (history of our life, eh?).
Santos in 2010 brought Robinho on loan to make a run for a national title. They managed to get the State title and the Brazilian Cup title, but they failed to win the Brazilian league. Still, we saw Ganso rising as Brazilian Cup best player, and getting his first cap in Brazil national team against USA. But an injury in his left knee (no, it wasn't caused by an arrow) put him on the medical department for 6 months.
His value was pretty high in 2010, even though he had a pretty bad injury. Many teams had interest in Ganso, and even made huge bids to get him, including Chelsea. But Santos president gratefully refused all of them; something he's probably regretful of.
2011 was a special year for Santos, but not so special for Ganso. He was back from injury in March, but pick up another one in May, which made him miss much of Copa Libertadores, the continental championship of South America (similar to UCL in importance, but not even close in the financial aspect). He was fit in time to participate in the final, and was called by Mano Menezes to integrate the Brazil squad to play Copa America (equal to UEFA Euro Championship). The whole team was a deception, including Ganso.
He picked another injury in August which sidelined him until November. He was able to participate in FIFA Club World Champinship, and to watch Santos being humiliated by Barcelona in typical Barça fashion.
Ganso has been involved in controversy about wages and his rights since 2010. He refused to sign the career plan offered to him, which was similar to the one given to Neymar, and every now and then there are brawls between Santos and the group of investors who bought a part of his rights. In the past, when they received the bids, the investors wanted Ganso to leave and Santos wanted him to stay. Now, it's the exact opposite.
I can't say that everything about Ganso is bad (m'kay?). No one can ignore his suberb capacity of finding holes to create incredible chances to his fellow colleagues. Most of the time, he have his head up, looking for someone to pass or for a space to run. He's the kind of guy who can easily set up the tempo of the match, speeding and slowing it when needed. He can even disarm balls when he wants to. And every now and then, he'll score a goal, most of the times a marvelous one.
And I can't say that everything about Ganso is good (m'kay?). Even though he's been at the top of list of assists in the league, sometimes he's a bit selfish. His inability in the air doesn't go without notice, considering his height. He also is pretty slow, and inconsistent even through games. His lack of effort in some games certainly doesn't help him at all. Like Özil, he likes when the ball is played at his feet; if it doesn't come, he won't be willing to get it. His lack of professionalism showed by how he treats the team worries everyone as well, but the main downside of Ganso is his injury history.
How can you spend £30-40 mi (which was what reports said Chelsea was offering) on a player that will most likely spend a lot of time treating an injury?
He reminds me a lot of Pedrinho: had almost all the pros and cons of Ganso, including the proneness to injury. Once tipped as a star, now he plays for a team in Rio who is not even in the Brazilian league system in any level. It's a shame, but that's football. And some can remind of other players like Thiago Neves, Rafael Sóbis, Diego Souza, Keirrison, Lenny... "New star!", media said. Now they're busts.
I can't say I root against him. I really like his style of play, but mostly due to his lack of speed and teamwork, I don't think AVB or anyone who comes after him should try to get him. We need someone like Lucas Moura, Eden Hazard or Mario Götze. Ganso would be perfect for a team which plays in a trequartista scheme, like Palermo with Pastore. Chelsea? I don't think so.