Brazilian starlet Allan Rodriguez de Souza arrived in the summer from Internacional in rather hushed circumstances. He was not heralded in his homeland and had never played a first-team game, and due to work-permit issues – was sent to Finnish side SJK on loan.
Not only did Allan get himself in the first-team, but he established himself as a key player and helped his temporary side win the title ahead of HJK, the outfit we played in a pre-season friendly a few months back.
Now, Allan is back training at Melwood under Jurgen Klopp, and has discussed his experience of football in Europe so far.
“It was good to get some game time as I hadn’t been playing in a while. Moreover, I had never played a game at professional level before so it was very valuable time I’ve spent there,” Allan recalls.
“It’s only been seven years since SJK were founded, and they were a second division club until recently. They had finished third in the league two years ago and were runners-up last season, and now this year we’ve won the league. It’s been very rewarding and I’m very happy we did it.
“European football is not like Brazilian football – the game pace and dynamic on the ball are very different. I tried to settle in as quickly as possible. I had little time to adapt and so I did my best to get familiar with it as fast as I could.”
“I had to fly to Liverpool on the same day people told me about the club’s interest in signing me.
“I was a little bit scared as it was out of the blue – I wasn’t expecting it – but I received a warm welcome from the Brazilians when I first got here. They took me to their houses, asked me if I needed anything and gave me all the support they could.
“They said I could rely on them for anything I needed. They were also very helpful in training and assisted me with the language – in fact, they couldn’t have done more than they did.
“They are wonderful people and I know I can count on them. I’ve been in touch with them regularly – and Lucas recently said in an interview that I’m a great prospect, which made me feel happy.
“I’ve spoken to them recently and they congratulated me for my time in Finland. It feels so nice to get this input from Lucas, Coutinho and Firmino, who are football heroes in Brazil and across the world. It’s very rewarding for me indeed.”
Following a hectic, successful but probably quite lonely few months in Finland, Allan is being allowed an extended break in his homeland – but he promises to return soon and work on his game to one day ‘bring joy’ to the fans.
“Now that I’m back, I’ll do some tests and whatever else I’ve got to do here, and then I’m off to Brazil to see my family,” he continued.
“I’ll be focusing on my training sessions at Liverpool for the next month or two when I return and we’ll see what happens after that, but I trust Liverpool and rely on their decision – I’ll do whatever they feel is appropriate for me.
“For now, my main objective is to gain more experience – it’s not yet the time to think about winning big things.
“I will take it step by step, with both feet on the ground, humility and hard work. But obviously in the long-term, my objectives will be more than simply train and play here – ultimately, one day in the future, I want to win and bring joy to the Liverpool supporters and much more.
“I’m a fighter and I’ll stick together with the team and go the extra mile. You can count on me as I’ll give my best to help Liverpool.”
The 18-year-old is terrifically talented, capable of playing anywhere in attacking midfield. He’s got two good feet, but can shoot from range with his left – as this wonderful goal during his time at SJK demonstrates.
We’ve already got three Brazilians in the first-team, and it’d be great to see another prodigal talent emerge through the ranks and join them.