23 year-old Brazillian midfielder Ramires Santos do Nascimento, a (pending) £18M acquisition from Portuguese outfit Benfica, is perhaps not your typical Brazilian. Anyone looking for a flair player is going to be disappointed by Chelsea's new acquisition, as Ramires falls perfectly into the style of new Brazil as tactical awareness and defensive ability take over from samba football. More astute readers will rightly point out that considering the play of Brazil for the past twenty years, Ramires is hardly atypical, but the stereotype is still there, so we'll roll with him being unusual.
Think Michael Essien. Power, pace, strength. Now think Frank Lampard. Clever passing, long range shot, finishing, and the ability to get into play at just the right time. Now combine them. Too good to be true? Of course, and Ramires isn't Lampard's equal as an attacking midfielder and doesn't have quite Essien's ability to dominate play in the centre of the field. But being 90% of two excellent specialists makes for an extremely exciting all-rounder. Ramires can act as a midfield anchor, play the ball outside, and race upfield to join in with the attack. He can score from range, and appears to be pretty competent in the box as well, playing better in the air than his size (5'11") would indicate. He even pulls off the odd stunningly beautiful pass, always a neat trick when defences pack in as tight as they do against Chelsea.
I don't think Ramires is a starter on a fully-fit Chelsea team. The position he's contesting most heavily belongs to Jon Obi Mikel, who's less help going forward but an extremely competent defensive shield, probably a greater need for the Blues with a dodgy centre half pairing. It's possible that Ramires matches Mikel defensively, but he'll probably need to be eased into the first team rather than being subjected to a trial by fire.* He is, however, excellent depth, and will provide far better cover in midfield than, say, an aging Michael Ballack. At 23, he's clearly got room to develop, and this is the sort of direction Chelsea should be taking when they have the opportunity, since the core is starting to creak a little bit.
All in all, I like this signing. I was stumping pretty hard for Bastian Schweinsteiger, but Ramires appears to be a reasonably close proxy, albeit without quite the pedigree. A player who can play in the first point of a 4-3-3 was a big need for the club, and Ramires fills it very well. There's every reason to be happy with what Chelsea have done here, assuming the transfer is actually completed at some point soon.
*Ok, West Bromwich Albion at home isn't really a trial by fire. But you get the drift.