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Western Sydney Wanderers will dance to the Saba beat

saba1Western Sydney Wanderers will have a distinctly Brazilian influence next season.

New signing Vitor Saba was signed from Italian Serie B team Brescia Calcio but is Brazilian by nationality.  Saba started his professional career at Brazilian team Flamengo, making one first team appearance.  After three loan moves to Brazilian state teams, he finally left for Europe in 2012 and played 33 games for Brescia over two seasons.

Since inception, Wanderers coach Tony Popovic highlighted Saba has a key acquisition and the club finally got their man recently.  Saba will be the man to drive the Wanderers midfield forward following Shinji Ono’s return to Japan.

With Brazil hosting the World Cup, there was only one place that Saba would be; it was easy to track him down in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro.  My first question was to find out how much Saba had seen of the A-League and the Wanderers.  “After the first call from Tony Popovic in late January, I started to follow the A-League and studied my future team and the other teams in every detail.”  Having done his research, it was a natural question to find out why Saba would choose to move to Western Sydney.

“I didn’t choose WSW. Tony Popovic chose me. He wants me to contribute towards his idea of what he wants the club to become. He thinks I can help a lot. When he first talked to me on the phone, I had no doubt I had to take this challenge“. 

It is clear that Saba feels wanted by Popovic and the Wanderers but it begs the question as to how he will fit into the team dynamic.  “My playing style is about creating chances for my teammates through dribbling or through set pieces. I think I will fit in naturally.” It is an exciting time for Saba to be joining Western Sydney because they still have the Asian Champions League quarter-finals to play in August as well as the FFA Cup tie before the league campaign gets underway.

Now they’ve got their man, Saba will be keen to impress by adding to his three first team goals in 34 games.  An attacking midfielder able to run at defences, he has shown potential from free kick situations too.  Two seasons for Brescia against hard tackling Italian defenders must be good experience.  “For sure. I think, in Italy, I’ve learned what my game was missing”. Saba elaborated on this, “their tactical and mental skills were a great addition to my game.”

Continuing with the theme, I was interested in who had inspired Saba and how.

“I think Ronaldinho had an influence on me because we played together in 2011. I saw him closely, almost every day of the year, so I have learned a lot from his approach to the game. There is no comparison because we have different styles of play.” 

Although Saba is only 23, he has experience in Brazil and Italy and will add to the Wanderers dynamic on and off the pitch.  Having explored what Saba will bring to the club, I wanted to know what the personal goals to be achieved at Western Sydney.

“My goal at WSW is to win trophies. The fans deserve it. The club deserve it by the way the last two years ended up. So, this is what I will try to achieve”. 

Statements such as this will go a long way to win over the fans.


The first thing that you notice when you see Saba is that he has a fabulous beard. England cricketer Moeen Ali is known as ‘the beard that’s feared’ and A-League defences will have a similar feeling this season when they line up against him.   It is quite a recognisable feature so it begged the question whether he thought that his beard would inspire fans to grow one too.

“I don’t know if my beard will have an influence. I wear it because I like but I will be happy if I see some of the beards in the stands. It will be a sign of appreciation of the fans towards my game not only on how I look”.

Finally, I wanted to know if Saba had a message to A-League fans in Australia and around the world.

“Not a message, just to let them know they are in the right way. When I saw the first videos of the A-League I was impressed. The fact I am 23 and I am leaving the European dream behind to enter in the A-League, I think, is a great sign. Let’s hope we keep on growing as a league and game. I will give my best to help them out on that.”

Having seen footage of Vítor Saba, I can’t help but feel that Western Sydney Wanderers are getting a player with potential and flair.  Maybe he could score more goals himself, but a sweet left foot and an ability to ghost past players will light up the A-League in 2014-15. The 2014 World Cup has been everything you expect of Brazilian football – I think that Saba could make that feeling last.

Photo credits: Maurizio Lagana/Getty, @vitorsaba

About the author

avatarJonathan is a freelance writer, and contributor to Ultimate A-League.

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  • Dilmo

    Saba is an incredible player. Great technique and vision of the game. Will become the biggest idol Wanderers in the near future.

  • Gabfc

    No he won’t…. Dud