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Premier League Cult Icons: Elano

Holding aloft a Manchester City shirt during a press conference in the summer of 2007, Elano stood alongside Javier Garrido, Valeri Bojinov and Vedran Corluka as one of five marquee signings for Sven-Goran Eriksson.

A major coup at the start of Thaksin Shinawatra's bold but brief tenure as owner of Man City, Elano established himself as a cult icon during his two years in M11.

Elano's samba flair, incisive passing and audacious long-range efforts endeared himself to the Man City faithful. Even when the Shinawatra era proved to be a false dawn and the infinite resource of Sheikh Mansour began to filter through, Elano would still exhibit glimpses of his magic during a watershed period for the club.

He was a player with all of the attributes who regrettably fell short of greatness. Elano was sold to Galatasaray for £8million in 2009; a move that the midfielder admitted he rues to this day.

Elano In Profile

Place of BirthIracemapolis, Brazil
Premier League club(s)Manchester City
Premier League appearances62
Premier League goals14
Premier League assists11
International caps50
Other notable clubsShakhtar Donetsk, Galatasaray, Santos

Journey into football

Hailing from Iracemapolis in Sao Paulo, Elano began his career with local side Guarani before earning his first professional contract with Brazilian giants Santos at the age of 20.

The midfielder immediately established himself as an influential figure for Peixe, helping the club to the Brasileiro Serie A title in his second campaign.

Elano grew from strength to strength and proved increasingly prolific in front of goal. Returning 12 goals in the 2003 season, he would nearly double his output in the following year and even added five goals to his collection in the Copa Libertadores - South America's premier competition.

By this stage, Elano had began to feature in Brazil's national team. The natural career path for most exceptionally talented Brazilians is a switch to Europe but Elano's move to Shakhtar Donetsk was unorthodox.

He'd win back-to-back league titles and feature in the Champions League for Shakhtar but it was a period of his career that Elano doesn't reflect too fondly; especially when he was having to brave temperatures as low as -15 degrees celsius.

Ultimately it was his experiences on the international stage that enabled him to flaunt his talent and it was enough to prompt Manchester City to acquire his services in the summer of 2007.

Style of play

A silky playmaker with the ability to conjure incisive moments that could win matches, Elano was the focal point of a free-flowing Man City outfit assembled under Eriksson.

Despite being deemed surplus to requirements by Mark Hughes in his second season with the club, there was no shackling his artistry and the midfielder provided an incredible display of bravura in a UEFA Cup thriller against Hamburger SV.

While his abilities on the ball were mesmerising, his set-piece prowess captured the headlines. The thunderbolt of a free-kick against Newcastle is still remembered today as one of the Premier League's greatest goals.

Elano was especially proficient from the penalty spot, boasting a 100% record from 12-yards out during his two years at Eastlands.

Manchester City legacy

It says a great deal that many Manchester City supporters were disappointed to see Elano depart at a time when the club had a stranglehold on the transfer market and could afford every player on the planet.

His involvement marked the start of an unprecedented era for the football club and the only regret is that Elano was not around for longer to truly embrace it.

The free-kick missile against Newcastle, the blistering solo run against West Ham and the exquisite touches that engrossed spectators, Elano's time at Manchester City was littered with glorious moments of individual brilliance.

For all the sophisticated flicks and tricks, his versatility arguably impressed the most. During the latter stages of the 2007/08 season and with Man City's squad depleted after a catalogue of injuries, Elano deputised at right-back and proved himself to be highly dependable.

It was a feature of his game that was praised while working under Hughes, with Elano often played out of his preferred advanced midfield role to accommodate City's stars.

Biggest career achievement

While his spell with Manchester City in the Premier League was arguably the peak of his career, Elano did enjoy great success with Santos across three fruitful spells.

Winning two league titles with the Brazilian outfit in his first stint, he marked his return to the club by winning Brazil's top flight in 2011 and 2012, before returning again in 2015 to take his tally of league triumphs with the club to six.

Accumulating 50 caps for Brazil is an accomplishment in itself and Elano was a feature in their 2007 Copa America triumph and 2009 Confederations Cup success. He also represented the Seleção at the 2010 World Cup, scoring in wins against North Korea and the Ivory Coast before his tournament was subsequently cut short due to injury.

Did you know?

Elano ventured into management following his retirement in 2016, although his coaching career hasn't quite hit the heights of his playing days.

Given his first break by Santos on an interim basis, Elano lifted the club to third in the standings before departing at the end of the campaign.

He's since had largely unsuccessful spells with Inter de Limeira, Figueirense, Ferroviaria and Nautico across a three-year period.

His most recent assignment saw him return to Ferroviaria, a fourth-division Brazilian club who play to a few thousand fans in Sao Paulo. He left the club in June following a six-game winless streak.

On this evidence, we might be able to rule him out of the running as Pep Guardiola's future successor at the Etihad.

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