Pedro Botelho departed Arsenal this week in the same way in which he arrived – as a virtual unknown, with serious question marks over his commitment and attitude.
Botelho signed for Arsenal five years ago, joining from Brazilian Série A side Figueirense, after the club had lost out on another South American flyer – Ángel di María. An outlandish character from the streets of party town Salvador, Pedro had been a beach footballer until six month previously, but had finally got his big break.
His tale is one which Arsenal have, and will, learn from. Five years on loan, no first-team appearances, little support and then allowed to return to Brazil for a nominal fee – he was very much an expensive experiment that went badly wrong.
Botelho arrived in England with little hope of a work permit, and was immediately loaned to Spanish Segunda side Salamanca, as part of a link the two clubs enjoyed. But due to FIFA regulations, he couldn’t even be registered to play for six months, and when he did, failed to break into the lineup.
A second season brought more expectation, but despite a number of promising performances, Botelho’s party boy life style slowly took over. He skipped English lessons arranged by Arsenal, training with Salamanca to take his friends to watch Real Madrid, and was eventually kicked out of the club for smashing the vice-presidents car, in a moment of anger.
Celta Vigo came calling a year later, but that deal too ended up in divorce, after Botelho threatened the manager, following a disagreement over a substitution. He moved onto Cartagena, where under the guidance of former Gunner Pascal Cygan, the tide began to turn.
Botelho played some of his best football yet at Cartagena, but turned down the opportunity to stay, to move to La Liga side Rayo Vallecano last summer. Arsenal backed it, but his time in Spain was about to turn sour, once again. Rayo cancelled the loan deal in January, when the player was arrested for a hit and run incident whilst drunk.
He was clearly out of control.
Botelho finished the season with Levante, but Arsenal were eventually fed up. They opted against trying to earn him a work permit, and having had to subsidise his wages during all of his loan moves, eventually accepted a nominal fee from Atlético Paranaense last week.
Now 22, Pedro is back at square one. His story is one of disappointment – a talent who, left to his own devices, has pressed self destruct on what initially promised to be a bright career.
Girls, partying, fighting, fines and crimes – few fit such a collection into a lifetime.