'Guangzhou Tower' Talisca rides to Cannavaro's rescue

Peter STEBBINGS
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Anderson Talisca has plundered 11 goals in eight games since joining Guangzhou Evergrande in the Chinese Super League

Anderson Talisca is ripping it up in the Chinese Super League (CSL), plundering 11 goals in eight games since joining Guangzhou Evergrande to show why he was on Jose Mourinho's radar.

The attacking midfielder, along with fellow Brazilian Paulinho, has rescued Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro from the sack and breathed fresh life into Guangzhou's faltering CSL defence.

The 24-year-old Talisca, who was reportedly in the sights of Manchester United manager Mourinho, instead signed for Cannavaro's side on a six-month loan from Benfica earlier this summer.

Since then, he has been the most influential player in China, also clocking up four assists to help force Guangzhou back into the title race with a third of the season left.

Talisca, who has played for Brazil's under-23s but is yet to make his full international debut, was at it again last weekend, scoring twice in a handsome 4-1 away win at title rivals Shandong Luneng.

Also strongly linked with Liverpool during the summer, the 1.91-metre (six foot two) Talisca has been so imperious that Chinese fans have nicknamed him the "Guangzhou Tower" after the futuristic spire that dominates the southern city's skyline.

Following his latest heroics, the local Guangzhou Daily called Talisca the "iconic white-haired Brazilian" -- he dyes his dark hair.

His goal rate was "staggering", said the newspaper, adding that Brazilian international and fellow new signing Paulinho was also "an indispensable core figure" for Cannavaro.

For his sixth-minute opener on Saturday, Talisca picked the ball up deep, surged past three weak challenges and then rifled home from outside the box with his left foot.

Tencent Sports called Talisca "a nightmare for Shandong's defence", as Chinese media acclaimed his immediate impact since arriving from Portugal.

- Are you watching, Jose? -

Talisca hopes to catch the eye of Brazil coach Tite.

"Sure, at first you have that fear, uncertainty," the heavily tattooed Talisca recently told the Brazilian media outlet Globo of the move to China.

"But I do not regret anything. As I said, I came here to evolve, not just the money."

Talisca, who would command a transfer fee of at least 22 million euros to join permanently from Benfica, started his career at Bahia in Brazil before joining the Portuguese giants in July 2014.

He was loaned to Besiktas in August 2016 and spent a fruitful two years in Turkey, scoring 37 goals in 80 appearances.

Despite that and media speculation that he could go to the English Premier League, Talisca surprisingly pitched up in July in southern China along with Paulinho, who returned to Guangzhou on loan from Barcelona.

Critics have said money was the main lure.

When the CSL went on a two-month break for the World Cup in June-July, Guangzhou -- chasing an eighth title on the spin -- were toiling under Cannavaro and in real danger of falling out of the championship race.

But fast forward a few weeks and -- with Talisca on fire and Paulinho impressive -- Guangzhou are third in the CSL, three points off leaders Beijing Guoan with a game in hand.

Carry on like this and Mourinho and Tite might just yet come knocking for Talisca.