FC Porto emphatically beat Olympique de Marseille 3-0 in their Champions League group stage match. Moussa Marega and Sérgio Oliveira had grabbed the first two goals, but the last one was all about the wingers.
Jesus Corona – who had assisted the first two – went on a mesmeric run towards the Marseille goal, leaving the opposition defence wondering what on earth to do.
When they finally got close to him, the Mexican played a neat backheel to Luis Díaz, who opened up his body and sent a wonderful first-time shot curling into the bottom corner.
Where was Felipe Anderson among all this? If that’s the question you’re asking, you won’t get a precise answer here, as he hadn’t even made the bench.
When you actually look at it, this isn’t that surprising, as he has managed just 49 minutes at Porto from a possible 540 at the time of writing – none of those have come in the Champions League.
His biggest contribution so far was a definitively negative one. That is because his weak attempt at maintaining possession started the move that led to Luciano Vietto scoring Sporting CP’s 87th minute equaliser.
This was on his debut, so he didn’t have the greatest of starts.
The club’s manager, Sérgio Conceição, has spoken about the Brazilian, describing him as ‘a player of extreme quality’, as reported by De Sporto Ao Minuto. He added: ‘Felipe has this notion, that in order to return to having brilliant moments as he had, it is necessary to work hard. Anything he does now can have beautiful consequences in the future, and everything that happened no longer matters.”
While this loan was supposed to be a fresh start for Anderson, allowing him to get over his disappointing form, the early stages are looking like a microcosm of his entire West Ham career. With all of the above in mind, it is actually fairly hard to see where he goes from here.
There is, of course, plenty of time for him to make his mark at Estádio do Dragão, but the question is whether he will be able to put the same problems he faced with West Ham behind him.
There were uncertainties about his work-rate and commitment, all of which have already been pointed out in a subtle way. There are no doubts from many that he has talent and ability on the ball, but it is his inability to use that which is the frustration.
If things don’t work out for him before January, there may be an option to recall him, but that seems pretty pointless – unless there is a big injury.
Pablo Fornals has been playing brilliantly on the wing in recent times, while Saïd Benrahma has now arrived.
That goes without mentioning that one of Andriy Yarmolenko and Jarrod Bowen can play on the left if needed.
We also wouldn’t be able to loan him out again, as players are only allowed to represent two different clubs during the same campaign. So, in the short-term, it is at either Porto or West Ham where he is going to have to thrive.
There may be a lot of underwhelming times from his career in claret and blue so far, but there have also been exciting ones: his run and neat finish against AFC Bournemouth, the flick against Manchester United, his brace to beat Southampton and the wonderful strike that turned out to be the winner against Crystal Palace being among them.
So far, these have been all too brief, which is the source of everyone’s frustrations, but if he could bring these moments on a more regular basis then he would be a true pleasure to watch.
Loaning him out, in theory, was a good idea, as getting game time is the only way that he was going to bring back these kind of moments.
Considering the Brazilian had only made last minute cameos in the league this term before heading to Portugal, it was clear that he wasn’t going to get that at London Stadium.
However, in practise, it seems as though the wrong club was chosen for him – it is unknown whether or not there were many other offers.
Anderson has usually thrived when he has had his own way, brimming with confidence and feeling like he is one of the stars of the show.
At Porto, a club with great pedigree, it was always going to be difficult for this to become Anderson’s reality. The hope will be that he can turn things around in Portugal and make that happen, before either coming back and thriving at West Ham or being sold for a large fee. However, right now, it would probably take a bit of a dreamer to see that scenario.