Brazilian attacking midfielder Elkeson has signed a three-year deal to join Guangzhou Evergrande for a transfer fee reported to be in the region of €6.5 million.
Elkeson, 23, had been in talks with the Chinese side for nearly two weeks but, after a brief impasse, the deal was completed on Wednesday evening in Brazil.
Botafogo, who Elkeson joined from Vitoria in early 2011, had tried to ensure that they would receive their 35% of the transfer fee with immediate effect, but eventually caved in and will now receive their fee in January when the deal is completed.
The transfer will no doubt raise questions over the future of Argentine playmaker Dario Conca, with the midfielder trying to force a return to former side Fluminense. Evergrande have been clear they are willing to sell Conca, but are holding firm over their valuation.
The addition of Elkeson, who is Botafogo’s top-scorer in the Brazilian championship this season, will provide Marcello Lippi with a variety of options. Quick, technically strong and powerful, the Brazilian primarily operates as a No. 10, but has spent much of the season as a makeshift striker and can also play from a wide position.
Elkeson joined Vitoria aged 14 and stood out at youth levels, prompting Portuguese giants Benfica to purchase 50% of his economic rights in 2008, when aged just 17. At the time, the youngster shared an agent with David Luiz who also came through the Salvador-based outfit before making the move to Benfica himself.
Elkeson became a first-team regular in 2010, having made his debut the previous season, and played a remarkable 63 games in the campaign, scoring nine times and making 15 assists.
After a similarly impressive start to the 2011 season, Rio de Janeiro giants Botafogo had seen enough and moved to purchase the player for around €2 million.
Elkeson’s 92 appearances for Botafogo yielded an impressive 26 goals and 17 assists in total, earning both a one-off call to the Brazil squad in 2011 as well as interest from both Terek Grozny and Bologna.
It is Guangzhou Evergrande, though, who have acted quickest to bring the player to Asia, with the deal coming as a surprise to many in his homeland, who had seen him as destined for Europe.
Lippi is reported to have personally identified the player as a suitable transfer target and it will now be up to the Italian to get the most out of their talented new signing.