On-loan left full-back Andre Santos has received a surprise call up to Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil squad for Saturday’s friendly with Bolivia.
The 30-year-old has been regaining his form, fitness and confidence with Gremio in Brazil after exiting, essentially for good, in the winter window from Arsenal after struggling to win over Wenger and the North London faithful.
Santos made his first appearance for the national team in June 2009, featuring in the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa and has gone on to win 22 caps for the Selecao. He has however not played for the side since 2011, and his return to his homeland has aided his faltering career that stumbled while at Arsenal.
The defender expressed to reporters his delight at being called up for the upcoming match, and paid tribute to the staff and players of Gremio:
I am too happy, I cannot hide it. Since I arrived at Gremio, I have worked seriously. I will do anything to stay.
I thank the club, coaches and directors for giving me all their support. I needed a run of games to get back to my ideal level and consequently show that I’m good enough to return to the national selection.
Santos is hoping that a positive performance this weekend will bode well for his chances to make the squad for the build-up to the World Cup in 2014, he continued:
I know that the group is not closed. I recognise the quality of the other players, but I hope to be included.
This is a massive boost for the defender who started his Arsenal career positively however this season he endured a torrid time. While it may come as a surprise to many Gooners, it must be testament to the hard work he is putting in back in his homeland.
The most positive news for Arsenal is the call up will increase his market value and perhaps potential buyers this summer. Congratulations Santos and good luck against Bolivia.