Anderson comes of age

AP

Anderson's upsurge in performances has seen him score in the UEFA Champions League against Valencia this season and, although it was only his second goal for the Red Devils, his manager has backed him to contribute more. By Simon Peach.

“I am proud — and my family is also. For me, everything is new, it's a dream come true.”

Anderson said all the right things when he joined Manchester United in a 30million euros deal back in June 2007, signing at the same time as Sporting Lisbon winger Nani and Bayern Munich anchorman Owen Hargreaves.

“My career I owe to my family,” added the precocious Brazilian midfielder at the time. “From starting well at Gremio, later going to Europe to join a great club like Porto and now making an even bigger step — at 19 — to join Manchester United is incredible. Everything will be different in England, I know that. But I am certain I will adjust quickly to life in England.”

While nobody can doubt the playmaker's eagerness three years ago, his character since moving to Old Trafford has been questionable. As well as being the subject of some lurid tabloid allegations, the Alegre-born midfielder has taken a lot of time to settle in Manchester having joined from Porto, where he was the Portuguese side's key player despite still being in his teens.

The Brazil international has, however, produced more consistent performances this season and was even rewarded with a new deal earlier this month. “his is the best club to be at and I would like to thank everyone for the great support I have received over the years,” said Anderson, now 22, after penning a new contract until June 2015. “I am looking forward to winning many more trophies with this club and I am so pleased to have signed a new contract.”

While Anderson may only now be showing the promise that saw Sir Alex Ferguson fork out for him in 2007, the Old Trafford boss was still happy to secure the midfielder's future. “We are delighted Anderson has signed a new contract,” said the Scot. “Anderson has developed tremendously since joining the club and he has fantastic potential at only 22 years of age, he is going to be a really top player.”

Anderson showed incredible ability with the ball at his feet from an early age, signing for Brazilian club Gremio at the tender age of five. After 13 years rising through the ranks, Anderson made his first-team debut for his hometown club debut aged 18, following in the path trod by the likes of Ronaldinho and Emerson in the years previous.

Anderson shone in his fleeting appearances at the Estadio Olimpico Monumental, while he also played with aplomb at various youth levels with the Brazilian national side — including winning the Adidas Golden Ball for the most valuable player at the FIFA under-17 World Cup in 2005. Having made just five first-team appearances for Gremio, the young midfielder earned a move to Porto where he played for 18 months and won two Portuguese titles, including a domestic double in 2005/06.

“Everything suggests that he is going to be a superstar, a prodigy as he has indisputable quality,” said World Cup-winning coach Mario Zagallo just before Anderson's call up for the 2007 Copa America by Dunga.

Since making his debut in Peru he has made eight appearances for the Selecao, although they have come less frequent due to his struggle to find his feet at Old Trafford. There are signs of a revival, though, after the 22-year-old recently put in outstanding performances against Blackburn and West Ham.

“He's been absolutely brilliant, tremendous,” said Ferguson. “He offers something different from the other midfield players we've got. He's got tremendous pace and he can beat a man.

“He's always decisive in his passing in terms of penetration. So he's different from the other midfield players we've got, like Darren (Fletcher), Michael (Carrick) and Scholesy (Paul Scholes), who lies a bit deeper at his age."

His upsurge in performances also saw him score in the UEFA Champions League against Valencia earlier this month and, although it was only his second goal for the Red Devils, his manager has backed him to contribute more. “"He should score more goals,” he said. “He's got the pace and power. He's clever, he's accurate with his passing, he should be accurate with his finishing.”

Anderson has been linked to several women but has no known long-term partner. Had a GBP125,000 Audi R8 but crashed it into a wall in Braga, Portugal back in August.

FACTFILE Name: Anderson Position: Midfielder Club: Manchester United D.O.B: 13/04/1988 Brazil caps: 8 Brazil debut: v Mexico, June 2007

Moment to remember: Winning the Golden Ball as the most valuable player at the 2005 FIFA under-17 World Cup.

Moment to forget: The vast majority of his games at Manchester United to date.

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