This January transfer window finally saw the end of Sandro Raniere’s career in British football as he moved on a free transfer from QPR to Turkish side Antalyaspor. With it fell the curtain on an injury plagued period in which Sandro never reached the heights that he promised early on in his time at White Hart Lane.
After commanding the midfield in Internacional’s 2010 Copa Libertadores win, Sandro arrived in North London with the promise to change Spurs reputation of having a somewhat flaky midfield. Early on he starred for Tottenham, dominating the midfield in crucial Champions League ties against Inter and AC Milan, breaking up the play in front of the back four. He appeared to be the answer to Spurs fans prayers, a player capable of adding steel to a team that all to often looked lightweight in the middle, earning him the nickname ‘beast’ amongst the fans. Yet these two performances were to be the pinnacle of his career to date, showing glimpses of a world class defensive midfielder.In 2013, Sandro picked up a knee injury, putting him out for the majority of the 13-14 season. This was to become a regular occurrence for the rest of his career in English football, lengthy rehabilitation periods punctuated with rare uneventful appearances.
In September 2014 Sandro joined Queens Park Rangers after falling down the pecking order at Tottenham due to his persistent knee injuries. His time at QPR displayed little of his best form, suggesting that the knee injuries had a lasting impact on his game. In January 2016 he joined West Bromwich Albion on loan for the rest of the season, but he barely featured for Pulis’s side and they didn’t take up the option to make his loan move permanent at the end of the season. At the end of the season QPR made it apparent that Sandro was no longer wanted at Loftus Road, as they wanted to shift his considerable wages off their bulging wage bill. Over the summer, a move to Sporting Lisbon got to the stage of a medical, only for Lisbon to back out of the deal due to Sandro failing the medical because of his knee problems. This outcome is disputed by Sandro, who claims that the medical report was insincere and that he was actually fully fit. This angered Sandro, who understandably saw the potential move to Lisbon as a real opportunity to play at the elite Champions League level many felt he belonged. As the summer transfer window slammed shut, he was forced to remain at QPR and barely feature until his recent January transfer to Turkish team Antalyaspor. This saw the end of Sandro’s frustrating career in English football, in which he never fulfilled the promise he showed in the first year of his Spurs tenure.
In many ways Sandro represents a change of direction for Spurs, with them moving towards stronger, more dynamic centre midfield players. With Moussa Dembele, Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier currently battling for defensive midfield positions at the Lane, it can perhaps be attributed to the early performances of Sandro that displayed that a bit of bite in the midfield could lead to increased returns for the Lilly-whites. For that and the great memories and attitude that Sandro brought to Tottenham, we should be thankful for his short English career and hope that he can succeed in Turkey and rise again to the top level of European football in which it once appeared he thrived.