New Newcastle recruit Leonardo Vitor Santiago has been given a ringing endorsement by Jets boss Scott Miller as he starts to nail down the final pieces in his Hyundai A-League 2015/16 squad.
The former Feyenoord Rotterdam, Ajax Amsterdam and Red Bull Salzburg attacking midfielder joins the Jets with an impressive resume supported by major European silverware including UEFA Cup and Austrian Bundesliga titles.
Speaking to local media for the first time since Leonardo joined the club, Miller declared that the Brazilian is a talented, experienced and exciting player for the region and elaborated on how the number 10 arrived at the Jets.
Paddy Kilmurray (NBN News): How did the signing of Leonardo come about?
Scott Miller: About four to six weeks ago he came onto the radar via an agent we’ve previously used at the club, one we can trust. I’d seen him play before through managers, and I’d actually noticed him through his time at Ajax. Martin Jol (who Miller worked with at Fulham) has links with him as well so I got a reference check through Martin.
PK: Can you describe him (Leonardo) as a player?
SM: Technically talented, quick and mobile with the ability to create chances in the final third. He can play across the front three, especially as the second striker or the number 10. I see him making those forward runs as well, he scores goals and is a forward threat.
James Gardiner (Newcastle Herald): He hasn’t played in nearly a year now?
SM: It’s close to year but he’s been involved in competitive games, just not in a starting capacity. I speak to him every week and he’s been undertaking a program for three or four weeks now we put in place for him. I’ve seen him train, he’s sent videos of himself training over the last two or three weeks and he’s looking well. He’ll have to be ready (for round one), I’m demanding that of him.
Meredith Gibbs (NEW FM): Will he be taking a mentoring role with some of the younger players?
SM: Completely, if you look at Mitch Cooper and Radovan Pavicevic these guys need guidance. He’ll also provide support to the leadership group and he’ll give that added quality in the final third people can look up to.
JG: He’s been at some big clubs but does he know what the A-League is about?
SM: I like to ask the questions, so rather than demonstrating and selling the club to him I ask him questions. We show some initial interest and then I ask the player to go away and do some research on the area and the club itself. It’s nice to hear them say ‘Oh, you’re in Melbourne right now’ before I tell them that we are as it demonstrates a mindset that they’re focussed to join the club.