Barça have employed many Brazilian players throughout its history, but only two of them, not counting Neymar, have made the jump Santos to the Blaugrana. We’re talking about Marinho and Giovanni. Both players arrived to Barça with much fanfare, but only Giovanni left his mark in the Catalan capital.
Marinho, the ephemeral genius
In the summer of 1974 Mário Peres ‘Marinho’ was at the hight of his career. At 27 years old, he captained Brazil in the World Cup hosted in Germany where his excellent vision of the game and his Brazilian technique on the ball made him stand above the rest. His areal play also made him dangerous going forward, as he would often threaten even the tallest of defenders. Marinho traded Pelé’s Santos for Cruyff’s FC Barcelona, and he didn’t occupy one of the three allowed foreigner spots, seeing that his mother was Spanish. Even so, the Spanish Football Federation didn’t authorise Marinho to play official matches for Barça until halfway through November.
Unfortunately, the player didn’t live up to expectations and in 1976, he was transferred to Internacional Porto Alegre after 37 matches and six goals for the Blaugrana. However, Marinho is the only player who played alongside Pelé and then Cruyff. As far as we know, no other footballer can claim such honours.
Giovanni, Brazilian flare for Barça
In 1994 Pelé took notice of an extraordinary ‘media punta’ who played for Sãocarlense, his name was Giovanni Silva. He wasted no time in signing the attacker up for Santos, where Giovanni flourished, and in 1995 he was named the best player in Brazil. Barça swooped in for the player in 1996 with the goal of paring him up with Luis Enrique and Ronaldo in the Blaugrana attack.
In Giovanni’s three years at Can Barça, he won two leagues, two Copas del Rey, one Spanish Super Cup, one Cup Winners Cup and one European Super Cup. He made 138 appearances and scored 40 goals for Barça, some of which were decisive, like his match-winning strike in the 1997/98 Clásico at the Bernabéu (2-3).