Phillip Buckley


CSKA Moscow have become quite well known in recent years for their buying of Brazilian players. At the last count CSKA had 7 Brazilians in their squad and judging by how successful they have been, more will surely follow.

Some though, are better known than others and can be considered more or less the finished article. Vagner Love for example is known and feared by defences throughout not just Russia, but Europe, due to his exploits in the Champions League. Daniel Carvalho is a skilful midfielder, who was man of the match in CSKA’s famous Uefa Cup triumph of 2005. Carvalho has lately been targeted by Liverpool and Inter Milan, though CSKA are unwilling to sell. Alongside these two internationals, fellow Brazilian Dudu is carving out a name for himself, too. Greek champions Olympiacos tried and failed to buy him in the summer and his stock will only rise in the years to come.

However, there is another Brazilian on the books of CSKA, who could surpass the achievements of all the aforementioned. Eyebrows were raised when the Moscow club moved to bring over the raw 19 years old Jo (full name João Alves de Assis Silva).

Born in Sao Paulo on March 20th 1987 Jo’s football ability was spotted early on by Corinthians and he duly joined their youth team. A full debut for the senior side came in 2003 at the age of just 16. Although Jo had shown potential in Brazil, with Corinthians, he had only managed 13 goals in 81 appearances, from 2003-05 picking up the Brazilian league championship in his final year. Upon his arrival in Russia few would have imagined he would begin to repay CSKA so quickly and he was clearly viewed as one for the future.

Jo settled in at CSKA straight away, no easy task when coming directly from Brazil and at such a young age. In his first season at the club he found the back of the net 14 times in 18 appearances, and would certainly have had more had injury not ended his year early. Since January 2007 Jo has had to take on even more responsibility because of CSKA’s decision to sell experienced frontman Ivica Olic to German side Hamburg.

Opponents are always surprised by just how good Jo is on the ball. He is 6’3 tall and for a big man has great close control and dribbling ability. He also likes to drift wide on occasion and cut in with deadly accuracy. Needless to say, he is also a threat in the air, though like every other part of his game there is still room for improvement.

That could be a scary thought, scary for CSKA’s opponents that is. Inter Milan found out to their cost when they visited Moscow in the Champions League, that Jo also possesses strength to go with his height as he turned his marker with ease, held off the advances of a further defender and placed his shot past Julio Cesar with precision. Jo’s performance in that game was at least something for CSKA to take away since they went on to lose the match 2-1. Add to this a further strike in CSKA’s 4-2 defeat in the reverse fixture and Jo has certainly announced himself to the Italians. They will surely eye his progress with interest.

Jo appears happy in Moscow and keen to progress with CSKA for the moment and playing in Russia has not been to the detriment of his international ambitions, having made his debut for the national side against Turkey in June 2007.

He has amassed two Russian Super Cup medals to go alongside his Russian Premiere Liga medal won in 2006 and with CSKA such a power in the domestic game, few would be against him increasing that haul. That he has made such progress without replicating the whining and off-pitch troubles surrounding his team-mate Vagner Love, is confirmation of his professional attitude.

A move to Western Europe would be Jo’s logical next step, though CSKA will be unwilling to lose such a prize asset he could be difficult to hang on to. Manchester United are already rumoured to be keeping tabs on him. One thing is for certain, he has come a long way in a short space of time, just ask any Premiere Liga defender.