RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - No matter how meticulously a Brazilian coach prepares for the new season, his plans can be wrecked in an instant by the international transfer window.
Brazil exported a record 1,085 professional players this year, according to the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).
In addition to the traditional destinations such as Spain, Italy and Portugal, players headed for places as unlikely as Guatemala, Surinam, Vietnam and Armenia.
The trade is often lucrative for Brazilian clubs and a successful move can give the players a chance to achieve financial independence for themselves and their families.
For the coaches of the 20 first division clubs, already working in one of the most volatile markets in the football world, it is a major headache, however.
“In the old days, the boy was born and his dream was to play football and to play for Brazil,” said Alexandre Gallo, coach of first division Figueirense, during an international football forum in Rio de Janeiro.
“Today, the boy is born and he dreams of becoming a footballer so he can turn professional and be sold to a club in Europe. The dream has changed.”
The Brazilian season runs from mid-January to early December while the European transfer window opens in January and again in July.
This means that most players depart either during pre-season training or halfway through the Brazilian championship.
“The first thing a coach has to know is the dates of the international transfer window,” Ney Franco, coach of Atletico Paranaense, told an audience at the same forum.
“No matter how much you work and plan in December, you always have the risk that two or three players you had counted on will not be there when pre-season training starts.”
“This is a problem for all the Brazilian clubs, even the ones with the best structure and more money.”
Franco said negotiations often went on without the knowledge of the coach.
”The coach is sometimes the last one to know. The player is taken out of a training session because he has to sign some paperwork and when the coach asks what happened, he’s told that the player has been sold.
“The Brazilian championship is at full steam and suddenly the transfer window opens...and the coach lives with the expectation that he could lose his best players.”
Before the start of the Brazilian championship, the respected magazine Placar publishes a guide to the tournament complete with player profiles for all 20 clubs.
Halfway through the championship, the magazine publishes a second guide because the original is already out of date.
Franco said that even if a player is not sold, there can still be a negative effect on the team.
“If the player thinks he is going to be sold, his commitment drops. If the deal falls through, he can get frustrated and his performances drops anyway,” he said.
Gallo said he had been sacked twice in the last three years after losing his top players.
In 2005, Gallo said he was at Santos when forwards Deivid and Robinho, who had scored 46 goals between them, left the club. The latter joined Real Madrid and is now one of the world’s top players.
Santos immediately suffered a dip in form and Gallo was sacked.
This year, he was at Internacional when they parted company with 17-year-old Alexandre Pato, who left for AC Milan.
Internacional struggled, Gallo was sacked and the player himself was shunted into the reserves on arriving in Italy.
“These are top-quality players, the supporters look up to them and they are not easy to replace,” he said.
Former Gremio coach Mano Menezes illustrated the problem with his line-ups from two different matches played less than two months apart.
In that time, five key players departed, including striker Carlos Eduardo, who was sold to a German second division club.
“I think we need to change the season so it coincides with Europe,” he said. “Then the effects would not be as serious.”
“The transfer window is a Sword of Damocles hanging over the coach.”
Editing by Clare Fallon