Evander has big dreams, for Timbers and for himself
This is what we know about Evander, the 24-year-old Brazilian midfielder joining the Portland Timbers:
He speaks English.
He's ready for a new challenge after 4 1/2 years with FC Midtjylland in Denmark's top league.
He's a proven playmaker and scorer at a high level who has big dreams and sees Portland and MLS as the right destination because it offers an opportunity for growth.
"I'm 100% sure that this will make me grow. And I think we'll have a lot of things to achieve together," Evander said during a virtual media availability on Tuesday, Dec. 6 from his home in Brazil.
"The opportunity matches together my dreams, my wishes with Portland's ambitions," he said.
The Timbers announced the completion of the deal to bring Evander to Portland on Dec. 5, checking one major thing off of the to-do list for Technical Director Ned Grabavoy and Coach Giovanni Savarese.
To add Evander, Portland paid a club-record transfer fee to FC Midtjylland of Denmark's top league. The amount was not announced, but reports indicated the fee is around $10 million.
Evander is under contract with the Timbers for four years, through 2026, with a club option for 2027.
The 5-foot-10, 161-pound Evander led the Europa League this year with five assists in six matches. He will be expected to be a driving force for the Timbers attack, a true No. 10 attacking midfielder — the type of player Portland has missed since Diego Valeri was in his prime.
Sebastian Blanco has been a dynamic and productive player, a versatile attacker who's especially effective out wide and in transition. But injuries have limited his effectiveness the past two seasons and the feisty Argentine turns 35 in March.
The addition of Evander continues a process of making the Timbers roster younger, adding another player who is several years away from his projected prime. Evander joins a midfield that includes Eryk Williamson (age 25), Cristhian Paredes (24), David Ayala (19), Santiago Moreno (22) and Marvin Loria (25).
Evander said his discussions with Savarese indicated that his ambitions fit with the club's ambitions.
In the club's release announcing the acquisition, Savarese said Evander can be a "game changer."
"His experience in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League allows us to believe that he will be able to adapt quickly to the MLS competition," Savarese said. "I am looking forward to incorporate Evander and start working with him."
Work is a word Evander used several times in his Dec. 6 virtual press conference.
He said the opportunity to play in Portland was not only about financial considerations, though he figures to be the highest paid Timbers player. Last season, that was Yimmi Chara ($1.5 million, according to salaries released by the MLS Players Association).
"It's not all about money," he said, adding that MLS "is a big league with a lot of big players."
The first impression? Evander is a confident, but not cocky, 24-year-old.
The fact that he speaks English should make his transition to life in Portland and to MLS easier than it is for some players who come from South America or from Europe.
Evander and Yimmi Chara will occupy two of Portland's three DP slots in 2023, according to a club spokesperson. How 2022 DPs Sebastian Blanco and Jaroslaw Niezgoda — both still on the Timbers roster — fit on the 2023 roster is not yet clear, at least publicly.
It's also worth remembering that Savarese has listed adding another center forward as a priority this offseason. The club likely would like to bolster the centerback position, if possible.
So, while Evander brings exciting potential to the Timbers, his addition is not the only step facing the club's management.
It's also worth remembering that players who move to MLS from abroad sometimes need months, or more, to adjust to the league, the travel and life in America.
Evander didn't make any bold predictions about the impact he might make in 2023.
"I'm just going to play my football and enjoy with my teammates," Evander said. "My main goal is to take the club to the top again," he said.
If he happens to follow the example of reigning MLS MVP Hany Mukhtar, the Nashville attacker who led MLS in scoring after moving from the Danish league, that would be a nice bonus.
Evander confirmed during his chat with Portland media that Galatasaray of Turkey was close to acquiring him, but that deal fell through. The Timbers then became his focus.
Grabavoy, in the news release announcing the acquisition of Evander, called this a great opportunity for the player and the club.
"He is a player with natural ability, capable of making an impact, and has already proven himself at a good standard. We see him as an integral part of the club's future," Grabavoy said.
Evander, whose full name is Evander da Silva Ferreira, scored 50 goals and had 38 assists in 167 appearances with FC Midtjylland. He played in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. His five assists in six Europa League matches this year led that tournament.
Starting his professional career in 2016, Evander played three season's with Vasco de Gama in Brazil's top league. He debuted on March 5, 2016 at age 18.
At age 15, Evander played for Brazil's Under-16 national team. With the under-17 national team, Evander scored three goals to help Brazil win the South American Championship and he made two appearances at the 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
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