Written by Uttiyo Sarkar
The summer of 2019 in the Premier League will fondly be remembered as one in which Aston Villa truly proved their financial might. Following their memorable Championship playoff victory, they made over ten summer signings in preparation for life in the big leagues- twelve, to be exact.
Dean Smith and Co. didn’t want to take any chances and hence brought in quality players to ensure their stay, indefinitely. However, one signing which stuck through was that of Brazilian striker Wesley Moraes. Apart from Tyrone Mings, the likes of Tom Heaton, Matt Targett and even Ezra Konsi were, at the least, recognized by the English football faithful. Wesley’s name, on the other hand, was not one many had heard about.
The former Club Brugge striker seemed like just another Brazilian export being pressured into failure by the Villains. For every Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus and Richalison, there has been a Kleberson, Gabriel Paulista, and Jo to level the playing field – the Samba reputation in the top-flight. However, Wesley’s story is anything but generic.
Growing up in a small Brazilian town Juiz de Fora, all he could do was play futsal with his friends. As many recognizable stars have from the land of the Samba football, he learned many of the tricks and trades from the ruthless Futsal competitions. Moreover, his father, who played at an amateur level himself, taught him the technicalities and the rules which make the beautiful game what it is.
However, soon tragedy brought things back to reality for little Wesley. Aged nine, his father passed away because of a brain tumour. But he continued playing futsal in memory of his father and became very good at it. He soon became a father to two different children aged just 16!
With the pressures of fatherhood, dire straits forced him to put in extra shifts to earn a bare minimum. Along with trials with different football clubs around the country, he also started working at a factory sorting screws to make a living. The 22-year-old’s hardiness probably comes from the roots which were created in the gruelling and hot days of having to grind out just for some reals per day.
All the mounting pressure never convinced him to give up on his dreams. He faced failures multiple times, in the most gruesome ways. He had a six-month trial with Atletico Madrid’s academy, even playing in competitive tournaments around the country, but was let go after being deemed not good enough. French side AS Nancy also offered him a three-month trial, as did Ligue 2 side Evian, but neither kept him beyond that period.
Not much was made from those trials and the burdens back home were piling up. Just when the chips were down from unsuccessful trials, a shining light got his career back on track. Slovakian top-flight side AS Trencin had been following him during his trials and saw the raw potential in him to thrive through.
At Trencin, he unveiled his potential as an intimidating striker. After contributing 10 goals in 18 appearances, he caught the eye of Belgian giants Club Brugge. However, another obstacle threatened to derail the dream before it even transpired. You see, Wesley has this condition where one of his legs is 3cm shorter than the other one. This condition was infamously borne by Brazilian legend Garrincha, helping him earn his reputation as the greatest dribbler of all time.
Upon discovering this deficiency, Brugge were hesitant at making the move. But the Brazilian proved his ability by showcasing his fast movement, fitness, and all-around agility to change their minds. Life in Belgium wasn’t easy at first for the Brazilian. Adapting to the European lifestyle can be unnerving for so many. In his first season, he made only six appearances and netted a few times.
Even in his second campaign, Wesley only scored a single goal in 17 appearances in the 2017/18 Jupiler Pro League. The journey looked bleak before he unleashed his potential in the playoff phase. He scored 5 goals in 8 games against the top sides, becoming a fan-favourite and winning a regular spot in the team thereafter.
The Brazilian grew in confidence from that point on, enjoying his most prolific campaign last season when he scored 16 goals and assisted 10 in all competitions. Suddenly, many prominent sides had their eyes on him. Aston Villa scored the victory for €25 million, making Brugge an x25 profit after they’d signed him for €1million.
Of course, the Premier League is a different ball-game altogether now. But it also stands as the perfect skipping stone to bigger stardom. After the way Richarlison leapt into the national team or how Roberto Firmino became the most proficient Brazilian in the league’s history and with Gabriel Jesus’s impact, the sky’s the limit for Wesley.
It’s been a tough challenge for him so far. But his form is reflected upon his side’s hiccups. He managed to score his debut goal against Everton, one of only three scored so far. The season, however, is like a marathon – with the creative Jack Grealish and industrious John McGinn behind him and some explosive wingers on the stretch, there is enough creative output in the team to unearth his dynamic goal-scoring ability.
Regardless of whatever lies in the future for Wesley and Villa, the Brazilian’s inspirational rags-to-riches story is a testament of his never-say-die spirit which itself should keep his fire alive for seasons to come.
El Arte Del Futbol is an official content creator for One Football. Find more original features, Player Profiles and tactical analysis on www.elartedf.com. If you are reading this on our website, we’d like to thank you for your continuous support!