Fights, crimes and spats; the tale of Arsenal’s Pedro Botelho

Jamie Sanderson July 27, 2012 Editorials 21 Comments

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.


  • Great article on PB. I think many were confused by this player and expected more over the past 5 years, but clearly he does not deserve to be playing top-flight football. Really appreciate this blog for the well informed content it posts and that it’s nothing like a Bleacher or a blog just commenting on the daily rumors all the time *cough*le-grove*cough*. Would love to see YG show up in my RSS feed more frequently though!

  • wow i could have done so much better if i had that chance. and that isn’t even saying much

  • Just makes you wonder, what if he had been given the work permit at first place and could’ve worked under the likes of Neil Banfield , Steve Bould and Arsene Wenger, they might’ve actually been able to work with his attitude.

  • “when the player was arrested for a hit and run incident whilst drunk.”
    What Jamie forgot to mention that the car he hit was a police car.

  • Rooney's hair piece

    What a shame. I remember seeing him a few years ago and thinking he looked like a fantastic talent. Wonder if Wellington Silva will be back in Brazil when he’s 22.

  • Not sure it’s so rare for a footballer to fit ‘girls, partying, fighting, fines and crimes’ into a lifetime, but I take your point.

    Interesting article. Always thought the Di Maria thing was that we never came up with a bid despite tracking him for a while, rather than that we ‘missed out’ (ie that we were outbid). Would be intrigued to hear the full story. Any other details you can give?


  • I Pity anyone who hasnt been through partying, girls, fines , fighting and crime before their twentieth birthday

  • High Power Mutant

    Good article, made e wonder again about the wages of our loanees, what is normal, do we always pay the majority of their wages?

  • The BearMan

    Goes back to what I have said previously! Someone at Arsenal is not fit for purpose. You cannot buy players and leave them to wonder around the world without serious input.

    That is a disaster waiting to happen. And it’s happening frequently with Arsenal!

    • What do you know about Arsenal’s “input”? Botelho and others are grown-up people who have support and guidance if they want it.

  • It’s really unfortunate. Discpline is very vital for any profession. I m wondering if AFC cannot buy these young guns and loan them back to develop with their childhood clubs until they attain the requisite qualifications for a work permit. Otherwise, sending them around Europe does not help them much. Wellington was often on Brazil call but no one thinks about him for now.

    • Bob – I think for work permit reasons they need to reside in the EU such as Spain for a number of years rather than remain in Brazil.

  • i honestly think that Arsenal needs to reshuffle it’s scouting network especially in South America. Denilson, Botelho and Wellinton Silva, honestly it’s as if we were trying to search for the more lowly rated Brazilian talents.

    • Bods Gooner

      Mushtq you are spot on with comment on our South American scouting network – why are we missing out on talents like Aguero (could have had him when he went to Athletico) and Oscar (available a year ago)?

  • I was wondering on the situation of another arsenal loanie.. Samuel Galindo, anyone know if he’s progressing? Or is he falling out too?

  • Sometimes you just cant help somepeople because they are self destructive by nature, mabey one day he will realize what a twat he has been or mabey he just does not give a shit, but eather way it is his loss not Arsenals in the long run.

  • Arsenal should have some common sense and not waste time recuiting so deeply in South America. There are already local “investors” who get these kids early on, so they are never really “cheap” anyway.

    And then on top of that England is NOT a natural place to really bring these kids to. The weather is terrible compared to what they have at home, the food is very different, the culture of the English very different – and London is an odd place for all its money and so on.

    And thats before considering the work permit problems that have made is such that Botelho, Campbell, Galindo for example have never actually been able to play in England anyway.

    And then branding wise, these kdis already have Read Madris printed in their heads from an early age. Going to an English club is NOT their first choice. You should have seen Campbells face when he announced he was going to Arsenal – he looked like he had swallowed a lemon. Clearly this was not his first or even tenth choice of club to go to. And no surprise then that it was a saga to get his signature. If he is any good is there a doubt that he will go running the moment Madrid crooks their finger?

    There is a vast gap Arsenal faces in getting any progress then, compared to the much simple task faced by say a Spanish team where there is much easier cultural and weather fit.

    Arsenal needs to sit down and look again. This South American focus will never work.

  • Great write up YG! (reminds me of reading articles on from the Blizzard) makes for a great story but all in all a great disapointment considering how often he had been given another chance by Arsenal to turn it around

  • i’ve been venting about botelho for years, thanks for the write up.

    arsenal should arrange to lend it’s whole entire south american scouting operation to one la liga team in the same manner as our arrangement with Beveren a few years ago. we identified various ivory coast players who were talented and they went over there for a while before trying out withu us. that arrangement produced eboue, kolo, yaya…

    we’re not able to bring south americans over straight away, so we should have a partner club in spain. we suggest the talent, they try them out, we take our pick after they’ve been there for a couple seasons.

    surely a fe la liga teams could do with having exclusive access to our scouting network?

  • Great post. Really hard to understand how so many young men let such an opportunity slip through their hands. I know there are distractions-a-plenty for men in such a position, but where are the people supposed to be around them? The families, the agents, the older, wiser colleagues? Just remarkable

  • Once again, great article.
    I’m from Florianópolis and a Figueirense supporter all my life. When Arsenal bought Pedro, everyone was surprised here in Floripa. No one really saw him play a good football, only had few chances at the senior squad and he just left (for a good amount of money). We know Pedro no better than Arsenal supporters.
    Strange player, strange person, strange behavior, strange transfer…

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